PhilRice free app shows right fertilizer for rice

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    An android application can determine the right amount of nitrogen fertilizer for rice. It is free and available online.

    The app was developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) based on the original hand-held “ruler” called the Leaf Color Chart developed by the International Rice Research Institute.

    Called the PhilRice Leaf Color Computing Application (PhilRice LCC App), it is now available on Google Play Store.

    Designed for farmers, extension workers, researchers and students, the mobile app can assess nitrogen status of the rice plant.

    It generates nitrogen recommendations in just under a minute based on the digital images of intact rice leaves photographed directly from the field.

    App users only need to lay down the topmost, fully expanded rice leaf on the smartphone’s front camera to capture its image using the natural light, said Ailon Oliver Capistrano, a senior researcher at PhilRice.

    Nitrogen levels of rice plants can be measured from a digital photo of its leaves, which is strongly correlated with actual leaf nitrogen concentrations.

    “The app measures the intensity of green color based on the captured leaf images and converts this into values correlated with the amount of nitrogen in the leaf,” Capistrano explained.

    Different camera types are normally installed in smartphones with variations in terms of resolution.

    The research team found that regardless of brand, smartphone cameras will deliver an almost similar reading at 5 megapixels.

    This means that app users can install the app even in an inexpensive smartphone brand and benefit from its function.

    “The app is more accurate than the conventional Leaf Color Chart as it eliminates subjective perception of users, which is prone to variation or errors,’’ Capistrano said. ‘’The app is also handy for new users or adopters who have no training or experience in the use of the manual Leaf Color Chart.’’

    The app is useful for farmers who often apply too much nitrogen especially during wet season which results in pest infestation, said Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga, PhilRice deputy executive director for development.

    “Many farmers are now online.

    They also have their children to assist them,” she added. “The LCC app will quickly find its way to them to guide them in the accurate application of nitrogen.”