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Manayan Farm, Malalam, Ilagan

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Ecosystems

What is an ecosystem-sustainable "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System"?

To define what an ecosystem-sustainable "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System" is, it is important to understand what it is not or what it should not be. For wet tropical ecosystems, like the Philippines, an ecosystem-sustainable "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System" will:

  1. Integrate the principles that ensure the stability and sustainability of the tropical rainforest ecosystem
  2. Focus on rainwater harvesting (RWH), treatment and storage; conservation, wastewater-treatment and recycling
  3. Address the issues associated with "conventional irrigation system"
  4. Avoid drawing water from underground reservoirs; instead will integrate groundwater re-charge as a foundation to help build a healthy ecosystem that would be ready  to cope with seasonal changes, climate change, global warming as well as the impact of El Niño and La Niña.
  5. Integrate micro-irrigation technologies but it is not synonymous nor completely dependent on micro-irrigation systems 
Eugenio-Magano Cadu Farms Area
Fig. 01. Eugenio-Magano Cadu Farms Area.  The varied terrains in the barangay of Cadu and adjacent areas consist mostly rolling terrain used for pasture and corn cultivation with a few scattered areas of flat farmlands used for rain-fed rice cultivation. The area and the larger area surrounding the lands shown in the map are either not suitable for conventional irrigation and lack of funding preclude construction of conventional irrigation system.  This a potential region that may be developed for an ecosystem-sustainable "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System" using rainwater harvested during the rainy season; stored in ponds constructed in strategic areas within the region to allow localized distribution of the collected rainwater, for use during the long dry season. One of the main goals of  "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System" is to maximize groundwater re-charge within the local area.  This will enhance the ability of the farmlands to cope with any prolonged and severe dry seasons, especially during the occurrence of severe and prolonged duration El Niño, that historically could last up to two years. 

An ecosystem-sustainable "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System" will address the question: How can ALL the excess rainwater during the rainy season be harvested, treated, and stored for use during the dry season -- for human consumption, farm production, animal husbandry, and, aquaculture?   

Read more: What is an ecosystem-sustainable "in situ (Localized) Irrigation System"?

Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100)

The graph shown here is part of a series of investigations that address the questions:

  • Is the Philippines growing too fast?
  • As an ecosystem, is the Philippine population and growth rate sustainable?
  • What is the carrying capacity of the Philippines? 

The United Nations projections, UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 [HF] (filled yellow circle in Fig. 01), still show a linear stage of the growth population curve by 2100, and the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 [CF] (filled red in Fig. 01), still show an acceleration stage of the population growth curve by 2100. Both the growth patterns are much higher than the historical population growth of the Philippines based from actual Philippine Census data up to 2010. More detailed analyses would support the proposition that both the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles) and the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles) growth scenarios are not consistent with the present population growth trend in the Philippines.  Further, they are not likely to be sustainable considering the land area of the Philippines.

We provide supporting observations also to indicate that the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 [HF] (filled light brown circle in Fig. 01)  -- showing a  deceleration phase to almost zero growth rate between 2055-2065 with a peak of 137.35 million in 2060, and subsequent negative growth stage thereafter -- may not be a likely growth scenario for the Philippines. 

The UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) (light green filled circles) growth scenario is already at the deceleration stage of growth although the plateau and peak stages appear to be after 2100; however, the peak population for UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) would be below 200 million if the growth trend continue after 2100. Among the UN population growth scenarios projected for the Philippines, the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) (light green filled circles) would be the most likely or perhaps the desired population growth curve of the Philippines that may be likely sustainable.

However, there is uncertainty as to when the peak population would occur and the maximum value of the Philippine population.  In a separate investigation, based on the land area of the Philippines, a peak population of 200 million Filipinos in the Philippines would be equivalent to a world population of 100 Billion.

 

 

Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100)
Fig. 01. Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100). Legends. NSCB Census data (dark blue filled with yellow circles), hereafter referred to as NSCB CensusNSO 2000-2040 Population Projections (light yellow filled with red circle) hereafter referred to as NSO 2000-2040NSO 2010-2045 Population Projections (light green filled with violet circle) hereafter referred to as NSO 2010-2045;,  US Census 1950-2050 Philippine Population Projections (light violet filled circles), hereafter referred as US Census PHL 1950-2050UN 2012 Philippine Population (1950-2010) Estimates (light blue filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012 PHL 1950-2010UN 2012 Medium Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light green filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF); UN 2012 High Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light yellow filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF); UN 2012 Low Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light rust yellow-brown filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF); and, UN 2012 Constant Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light red filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF)
Inset A. A full version of the graph showing the highest values by 2100 for the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles), and, the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles). However, the peak population value for both the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles) showing linear growth rate, and, the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles) showing the acceleration phase of growth remain undetermined until each reach the deceleration and then plateau stages of growth as shown in the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF)  (light rust yellow-brown filled circles).  

 

Read more: Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100)

How not to build a farm pond

Rainwater harvesting is the one of the main components of our long term strategy to build in situ (localized) farm irrigation systems.  The development of  in situ (localized) farm irrigation systems is vital because most of the agricultural lands in the Philippines are mainly rolling hills or in upland areas; thus are not considered as areas suitable for conventional irrigation systems.  Further, after more than fifty years of existence, the National Irrigation Agency (NIA) has reported only 1.67 million hectares as irrigated out of the total 3.1 million irrigable lands (with elevations not exceeding 3o).  About 8 million hectares of the agricultural lands in the Philippines remain unirrigated; thus, most are cultivated mainly when there is sufficient rainwater during the rainy season. Drought-tolerant crops may be cultivated during the dry season but the risk of prolonged scarcity of rain may lead to severe drought that would either reduce the crop yield or even lead to complete crop failure.

How not to build a pond
Fig. 01a. How not to build a pond. The children, who served as guides during our inspection of the other farms adjacent to the Eugenio-Magano Farms in Cadu, Ilagan, Isabela, Philippines, provide a rough idea of the depth of the small farm pond built in the adjacent Acierto farm. The image was taken 18 May 2014, and the farm pond is bone dry; this is not surprising because the pond depth would just be more than a meter.  Most of the rainwater collected would be lost through evaporation because of the large surface area relative to the total volume of the rainwater stored.  

Storage and percolation farm ponds are key components of our in situ (localized) farm irrigation system planned projects. In the Reference Desk section, we re-printed segments of the manual of Farm pond construction, management and maintenance published by the US Army Corps of Engineers, as well as similar internet documents from other reliable sources.

It is heartening to observe that building of farm ponds have been started in some areas visited in 2014.  However, as shown in this farm pond, many have not been constructed properly so that their use as rainwater storage areas are ineffective.

In separate articles, we included videos revealing inspiring efforts in even the most arid places in the world, where rainfall could be as low as 300-400 mm annually and yet through collaborative and dedicated work from the farmers in the community, these desert lands have been converted to green oasis even in the backdrop of drought, climate change and global warming.

Thus, in wet tropical countries, like the Philippines, where the lowest mean annual rainfall (I have encountered so far) was around 670mm water scarcity should not be an issue. Most regions of the Philippines would have annual rainfall exceeding 1000mm while other wet regions would exceed 2000mm or higher annually. As such, the Philippines is considered to have "sufficient", if not an over-abundance of rainwater.

And yet, the Philippines experience water scarcity or even drought regularly during the dry season and especially during the occurrence of El Niño.

One of the long term goals of Kalikasan-Philippines is to address the question: How can we harvest ALL the excess rainwater during the rainy season, so that the stored water will be available during scarcity of rain during the dry season to be used for domestic consumption, crop cultivation, animal husbandry and aquaculture?

 

Read more: How not to build a farm pond

Shade tolerant plants under Mandarin Citrus Trees

Shade Tolerance.  Here the term shade is used loosely.  The actual Mandarin citrus trees found in Farrm 03, Cadu, Ilagan, Isablea are wide apart enough in an East to West orientation (evident from the observed shadows during the early morning (between 7-9 am) site visit.  

Ecosystem Intensification. In Ecoculture, one of our goals is to approximate the condition in a tropical rainforest ecosystem, where every space is utilized by the interacting flora and fauna. The only limit on what could be achieved in Ecoculture is an allowance for practical and economically feasible cultivation of the crops in the Ecoculture system. 

Read more: Shade tolerant plants under Mandarin Citrus Trees

El Niño - La Niña and Rainfall or Lack Thereof

In early in 2014, there was much buzz of the coming of an El Niño (visit articles included here). It was supposed to be very strong, and this would mean severe drought in the Philippines. I visited the Philippines for six month (March to September 2014), in part to evaluate the potential impact of El Niño on our Kalikasan-Philippines projects. Indeed there were the expected signs that come with El Niño -- very high temperatures (some days as high as 40oC), the expected rains to start by May to July were quite short (lasting an hour or so) and only about six (6) such precipitations each month (May-July) even near end of the dry season.  By late July and thereafter, there should be more frequent and long-duration rainfall, but there were only a few and far in-between.

These concerns of an impending El Niño and its unknown duration, led us to delay the massive initiation of our full farm EcoCulture projects, since the farms were not ready yet to cope with long term drought.

What was surprising and inconsistent with an El Niño event was the number of tropical typhoons and depressions that developed in the Philippines in 2014, some causing significant damages to different regions of the country.  

The arrival of several typhoons was not what was expected during a strong El Niño, or so I thought based from the impressions gathered reliable articles about El Niño. This seeming anomaly motivated me to investigate further how El Niño or La Niña really impacts the Philippines.

This led to the question: Is there enough rainfall during the August-December season (the normal rainy season) even during the development of a strong El Niño?

Impact of El Niño/La Niña with Rainfall Intensity
Fig. 01. Impact of El Niño/La Niña with Rainfall Intensity.
 

Our initial findings indicate a correlation -- in general, lower precipitation during El Niño, and higher precipitation during La Niña. However, it appears that there are other climatic phenomena, e.g., typhoons, Intertropical Convergence Zone (IZC), etc., in the Pacific region that would impact the intensity(or scarcity) of rainfall, even during the development of a strong El Niño. 

The peaks and troughs in the rainfall patterns (blue bars and red trend lines), indicate a regular cycle of high volume of precipitation during the rainy season (peaks) and scarce rain during the dry season (troughs), for the region indicated in the figure. This observations raises the question:

How can ALL the excess rainwater during the rainy season be harvested, treated, and stored for use during the dry season -- for human consumption, farm production, livestock husbandry, and, aquaculture? 

Read more: El Niño - La Niña and Rainfall or Lack Thereof