How to Make Organic Fertilizer in the Philippines

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Manure from the water buffalo is an important part of recycling nutrients back to the crops.
Manure from the water buffalo is an important part of recycling nutrients back to the crops. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The Philippine Islands are a range of lush, tropical islands off the coast of southern Asia. The culture, especially away from the large cities, can seem like a step back in time, with farmers depending upon large, placid water buffaloes for much of the muscle power. Rice is the primary crop for many farmers, who are often too poor to afford commercial fertilizer. Dr. Virginia C. Cuevas of the University of the Philippines has discovered a fungus, Trichoderma harzianum Rifai, which makes the process of decomposing rice hulls much faster for Filipino compost makers. This provides access to natural, organic fertilizer for many different crops.

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Mix together combinations similar to 3 parts rice straw to 1 part tree leaves, or other green material; 4 parts rice straw to 1 part chicken, hog or water buffalo manure; or 4 parts grasses to 1 part legume materials with 1 part manure. Soak any dry material beforehand until it is well moistened.

Add at least 1 percent of the volume the fungus Trichoderma, and mix it into the pile.

Place the material into a covered bin that is raised 1 to 2 inches off from the ground. Do not compact the material.

Turn the pile over every five to seven days for the first three weeks. At the end of the first week, the pile should be reduced in size by one third. At the end of two weeks, the pile should be half the size.

Check the temperature and texture after four weeks. The pile should be cool to the touch, with the different materials reduced to a dark brown, soil-looking mixture with a sweet odor.

Immediately apply it to the crops as fertilizer, or let dry in the sun for several days and bag it up if the compost will be used later.

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