LA TRINIDAD, Benguet. Vegetable growers who have been using sacks as windbreak may now use shade net as structural windbreak to control strong winds that may damage the crops. This was the conclusion of the farmers of Atok and Buguias, Benguet during the recent field day on the introduced structural windbreak to help lessen the impact of climate change in agriculture in their municipality.

According to the farmers the use of shade net is better because the sacks eventually fall when the strong wind approaches. In addition, shade net is sturdier compared to sacks which get easily worn out due to continuous wetting and drying. Shade nets are porous which allows the entrance of wind or air compared to sacks.

The use of shade net as windbreak was developed by the Climate Smart Agriculture Center (CSAC) of Benguet State University (BSU). Funded by the World Food Program, the structural windbreak using shade nets was introduced in the farms of Ms Winnie Taynan in Barangay Bonglo, Paoay, Atok; and William Amado in barangay Lengaoan and Mr. Sotero Capsuyen in barangay Buyacaoan, Buguias.

According to Ms Taynan, “the structural windbreak will not only control the flow of strong wind but will also serve as fence required when applying for good agricultural practices (GAP) certification”. Mr. Capsuyan also observed that crops without structural windbreak were bending after a series of rainfall and strong wind while crops without structural windbreak were still standing erect.

Windbreak is designed to break the force of the wind that may detach the roots from the soil due to excessive movement thereby resulting to damage of crops. Studies by BSU researchers show that occurrence of strong winds could lead to as high as 50 percent damage on highland vegetables and 5-10 percent on strawberry. This is because strong wind breaks or twists stems of plants that will cause black leg disease and uproot the plants which lead to stunted growth in vegetable crops and fruit abortion in strawberry.

To construct the structural windbreak, GI pipes (S40) are cut at 200 cm each to serve as post. Then holes at a depth of 1 foot deep are dug at a linear distance of 2.5 meters for the GI pipes to be installed as post. After which, iron bars are welded to the G.I. post one above, center and below for the interlink to canchor. Then interlinks are attached to the post before installing the shade net.

The use of shade net as wind break does not compete with crops for water and nutrients compared to the use of alnus trees planted around the farm. It does not also give too much shading to the crops.