Water is a vital component for successful and sustainable rice production. Any shortfall in the water supply can affect agricultural and economic growth, quality of life, and the social stability of the country. Globally, agriculture uses ~70% of available freshwater—and 40% of this is used for rice cultivation alone. Being a staple food for half of humanity, more than 3 billion people rely on the grain for their main source of livelihood. So, enhancing rice production—irrigation is seen as a pre-condition in most countries, especially in the Philippines, where the irrigated area is contributing 77% of the total rice production.

WateRice is a research and development project funded through a collaboration between the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhiRice), and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The project developed information and communication technology (ICT)- and Internet of Things (IoT)-based tools for improving decision making on water and weed management, recommended best practices for rainfed environments, and introduced mechanization for land leveling and planting to improve water productivity.

Project highlights

The project contributed to the modernization and industrialization of agriculture in the Philippines. In alignment with the Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap, the project contributed to competitiveness by increasing yields, reducing the farmer production cost, and raising cropping intensity. With an improved and diversified source of farm income, the project also contributed to profitability.

With the conventional approach of AWD, it is challenging for farmers to measure water levels manually, and often it is not employed at all.

AutoMonPH (automated monitoring) is a decision support system for sustainable water management. Based on the Internet of Things (IoT) solution, AutoMonPH provides irrigation scheduling advisories to different stakeholders by communicates with water level sensors in paddy field using wireless connectivity.

The team also developed a weed management module to be plugged into the Rice Crop Manager platform.

Technology gap analysis on mechanical transplanter

To date, only 2% of an estimated 10,300 ha of rice land in Region II has used the mechanical transplanting method. Tedious seedling preparation, machine malfunction, and logistics of transporting the machine are key challenges resulting in low adoption. Introducing a business model for rolling out MT service packages can fast-track scaling and adoption.

Partnership around mechanization work

IRRI and DA collaborated with the private sector (Trimble & GoTraktora trading) for wider demonstration of laser land leveling (LLL) and local manufacturers (Agri-Component Corporation and ACT Machineries Corporation) for laser bucket and mechanical transplanters (FarmOn.ph).

To build on these partnerships and others that have been nurtured over the years, as well as to scale the efforts on mechanization, DA-BAFE spearheaded the drafting of a house bill on laser land leveling. The house bill, known as Farm Land Leveling or House Bill 4269, is currently being heard at the House of Representatives.

Key stakeholders

  • Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs)

  • DA-SCRC in Region 2

  • DA-WESVIARC in Region 6

  • Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM)

  • National Irrigation Administration (NIA)

  • Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Team (RCEF team)

  • Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech)

  • Local Government Units (LGUs)

  • Farmers' organizations

Work with LGUs on Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Rainfed Areas

Many partner agencies, including local, provincial and regional offices, have expressed their interest to lead the scaling out activities after the project. The project has also chalked a sustainability planning framework as part of a workshop for scaling out the plans of the partners. Funds for the scaling out will come from the provincial and local government budget and some counterpart funds from farmer groups.

Ways Forward


Once the technology is ready for transfer, this framework will help map the third party companies or agencies that will provide material or services to ensure the sustainable operation of the AutoMonPH system.

Work with LGUs on Best Management Practices for Rainfed Areas

1. Establishment of a community-based seed system.

2. Promotion of crop diversification.

3. Demonstration of the BMPs.

4. Allocation of funds from local government offices to scale out the BMPs.

Online Resources

DA - IRRI2016 - 2021