All Out with Mechanical Transplanter

In a conservative community of farmers, this young woman is a risk-taker.

Her first time using the riding-type mechanical rice transplanter (MRT), Judith M. Ellean, 32, never gave it a second thought to plant her entire 1.5-hectare land.

One would think that this would be a reckless move since her whole farm, hence, her livelihood, would be at stake if it fails on this endeavor but Judith was driven by her mission to promote among the farmers in Nabunturan, Davao de Oro, the potential benefits of using the MRT. Consequently, more farmers would believe and finally adopt the technology in their rice production.

“Kasi kung walang magsisimula, walang susunod. Kapag walang makikipagsapalaran, walang makakakita na maganda ang mechanization,” the young innovator said.

“Gusto kong maging parang advertisement itong ginawa ko para sa kanila nang mas dumami pa ang gumamit ng MRT sa aming lugar,” Judith added.


In 2021, Judith was exposed to the MRT through a demonstration in a training course conducted by PHilMech after their cooperative, the Nabunturan Agrarian Reform Community Integrated Cooperative (NARCICO), received one unit of MRT under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Mechanization Program.

Originally, it was her husband who was sent by their cooperative to undergo training on using the MRT. However, since she was there already, she observed intently and became interested in the technology.

In her passion to begin adopting the technology, she, and their manager, Carmencita E. Valdez, tried to prepare seedlings for the MRT. After a few trials and with the guidance of PHilMech, they were able to learn how to properly prepare seedlings for the MRT.

Working hand-in-hand with her husband, a trained operator, and Judith, who prepares the seedlings, they were able to plant on their 1.5-hectare land area. Their passion for the MRT was contagious that her conservative father-in-law also committed his 1-hectare land to be included in the pilot planting.


In terms of the planting duration, the couple was able to plant 2.5 hectares in just one day with less labor requirement of at least two people. Compared with manual planting, one would need at least 15 people and a few hours to finish the area.

Cost-wise, operating the MRT is also cheaper because the rental fee only costs PHP 3,000. That is clearly 67 percent less than the manual operations with PHP 9,000 (pakyawan). Besides, with the MRT, they won’t need to provide food to 15 people anymore.

Judith admits that despite the early challenges of preparing seedlings, she would still go for the MRT method because it's significantly cheaper.

“Mahirap ang magprepare ng seedling pero dahil mas mura, susubok pa rin ulit,” she emphasized.

On the quality of planting, Judith observed a significant difference after using the MRT.

“Sa manual, stressed ang seedling dahil bubunutin pa tapos itatanim ulit. Tapos unlike MRT, hindi kaya ng manual ang pantay-pantay na tanim. Yung machine kasi naka-measure na y'an, consistent pa,” she explained.

During harvest, they were still able to harvest 244 sacks of rice with an average weight of 62 kilograms per sack in their 2.5-hectare land despite rat infestation in their area. Had they prevented infestation, Judith believed their yield would be definitely higher.


Their cooperative expects to service an additional 5.5-hectare area in the next planting season using the MRT. This is after the neighbor-farmers of Judith expressed their intention to finally try the technology upon seeing promising results in her farm.

All thanks to the all-out interest of Judith to the MRT! Indeed, innovators play an important role in increasing the adoption rate of MRT in the country.

[Photo] Manager of NARCICO, Carmencita E. Valdez (left) and Judith (right) understand how beneficial it is to have the MRT at their disposal. Together, they are on a mission to promote the benefits of the MRT to their fellow members.
Photo by: Jett Molech G. Subaba
Republic of the Philippines
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