Minimal impact, SRA: Volcanic ash fall damage to sugarcane ‘very minimal’

Posted by watchmen
June 10, 2024
Posted in HEADLINE

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said the damage caused by the eruption of Kanlaon Volcano to sugarcane fields in Negros Occidental is “very minimal.”

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona, in a statement, said the rain helped neutralize the acidity of the volcanic ash.

“Medyo swerte po na umuulan sa affected areas. So I think, madi-dilute po iyong effect ng ash fall,” Azcona said.

The SRA deployed their research teams to conduct soil and leaf sampling and assess potential damage to fields affected by ash fall.

Soil and leaf samples from 23 farms around Kanlaon showed an improvement in pH level — from five to about 5.8 and 5.9 on June 5 and 6.

The acid test conducted at the SRA’s La Granja Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Negros Occidental’s La Carlota City last week, showed 4.14 pH on sugarcane leaves and 5.06 pH in the soil.

Azcona said continuous regular soil sampling and monitoring are being conducted to assess the effects of ash fall, following the increase in acidity levels in the sugarcane fields.

He added that farmers are out in the fields again to replant sugarcane, and it’s “business as usual.”

Around 23,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations in four milling districts, such as Binalbagan town, La Carlota City, Ma-ao, and San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, are affected by ash fall.

Azcona said the SRA approved the use of its corporate social responsibility funds worth P2.5 million for financial assistance to farmers and its employees affected by the eruption.

Based on an earlier report from SRA’s Research and Development Department, the volcanic ash could cause physical damage to sugarcane leaves, affecting their photosynthesis capability.

The ash could also cause biological and chemical disruption in the soil, which leads to a reduction of yield, the report added.

Its long term effects on sugar crops are nutrient imbalance in the soil, chemical leaching, compaction, and erosion on the ground that may reduce its pH level.

However, sugar planters could also benefit from the volcanic ash fall, as it is rich in minerals and nutrients, such as potassium and phosphorus, which could improve crop yields and enhance soil fertility in the long run.

The report said volcanic ash improves soil texture and water retention, reducing the need for frequent irrigation.

It acts as a natural pesticide by creating a physical barrier, deterring pests and disrupting their life cycles, while reducing the need for chemical interventions, it added.

On June 3, Kanlaon Volcano erupted and produced a 5,000-meter plume, bringing coarse ash fall and sulfurous odor to the surrounding localities in Negros Occidental. / With reports from PNA / WDJ


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