Sugar planters conduct cloud seeding in Batangas
BATANGAS – To mitigate the intense effect of El Niño or dry spell on their sugar cane plantations, the Batangas Integrated Sugar Planters Association (BISPA) acted on its own and initiated cloud seeding operation in the province.
According to Ruben Marasigan, chairman of BISPA, they have allocated at least P1.2 million for cloud seeding to irrigate their 30,000 hectares of sugar cane plantations located at the 1st and 2nd districts of Batangas.
"We’re hoping this cloud seeding operation will be successful so we could still replant this coming December," Marasigan said.
Marasigan added that with the ongoing dry spell, sugar planters in the province could lose up to half a billion pesos.
"The cloud seeding will be conducted in a span of 30 hours with at least 500 sacks of salt to be disposed in the air," Marasigan said
Marasigan said they will conduct a total of 25 flying sorties aimed at inducing artificial rain to areas hardest hit by the drought in the province.
At a current cost of P32,000 per sortie, he said their cooperative’s budget for cloud seeding is projected to cover 25 hours of flying time. He said at least 500 kilograms of salt will be used for each cloud seeding sortie.
Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification whereby salt crystals are released into a cloud with the use of airplanes or helicopters. The particles (salt crystals) grow until they are large enough to cause precipitation to form.
Aside from boosting rainfall, cloud seeding methods are also expected to help raise the levels of water reservoirs.
The cloud seeding operation in Batangas was conducted by private firm ChemTrad Aviation of Captain Baradas who is based in Tanauan City.
Technical Sgt. Rey Moleta from the 900 Airforce Weather Group and the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) supervised the operation.
Moleta said the cloud seeding would be done during mid-morning and mid-afternoon, when the skies are usually covered with cumulus clouds.
Although Batangas is not as badly affected by El Nino as other provinces in Region 2, the Batangas provincial government is already studying if a state of calamity should be declared in the province.