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close this bookBasic Concepts in Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Management: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1993, 151 p.)
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View the documentPhilippine commercial energy sources, 1990
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View the documentDegradation of the uplands
View the documentLowland degradation
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Lowland degradation

Lowland degradation


Lowland is any area of rainfed or irrigated farmland that is flat or gently undulating and usually at an altitude not far above sea level. (Resource Book on Sustainable Agriculture for the Lowlands, IIRR, 1990.)

In the Philippine context, most of the lowlands are planted to rice, the staple food of more than 80 percent of the Filipino people. Hence, the lowlands are invariably equated to rice production areas. Of the total rice area, 43 percent is irrigated, 43 percent is rainfed and 12 percent is upland.

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The widespread adoption of the world-renowned Green Revolution, from 1965 to 1988,changed rice farming in the Philippines. These changes were:

· Double rice cropping increased from 19 to 50 percent.
· Adoption of HYV's increased to 87 percent of the total rice-growing areas.
· Fertilizer application increased from 20 to 80 kg/ha.
· Use of insecticide increased from 31 to 94 percent.
· Use of herbicide increased from 12 to 74 percent.
· Use of power tiller increased from 0 to 46 percent.

(Resource Book on Sustainable Agriculture for the Lowlands, IIRR, 1990.)

Other changes which are less readily quantifiable, but equally important in the overall quality of life of the lowland farmers, include:

· Shift to intensive monocropping or the planting of one crop only - rice

· Loss of natural protein foods, e.g., fish, snails and frogs brought about by the heavy usage of pesticides in the farm

· Resistance of pests to chemical pesticides

· Environmental degradation, such as reduction in the natural fertility of the soil (low organic matter), pollution of water sources and effects of pesticides on human health

· Drought and floods

· Sedimentation in irrigation canals

· Some areas are utilized as improperly designed garbage disposal sites.

· Conversion of fertile agricultural land to nonagricultural purposes, such as housing projects and industrial sites.

· Conversion of wetlands to agriculture or other purposes.