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Pechay Cultivation with Drip Irrigation 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago
Pechay Cultivation with Drip Irrigation





Description and Rationale


Though not known to the others very well, drip irrigation system is a technique that helps plants to grow in hot seasons. It was first developed in Africa in order to make plants survive the hot season so that people could have food and not starve in the hot season. Philippines or at least the Ayta Abellans, the ones living on the rocky mountain will be in great benefit if this was to be introduced to them because they are suffering due to hunger in the hot season. This is the skill that could make them produce crops during the hot season, which they have never dreamt of.

What is the drip irrigation system’s impact on the local ecology and people? Is this just a skill that is effective only when the water is present? Will it bring water to everyone in the village or just the ones that has it? What will be the price of all the materials if we are planning to mass produce this thing? Does the water’s dirtiness affect the growth of pechay and other sorts of food? Are they really efficient in making plants stronger? Will plants be hundred  protected from the sun’s hotness?

Recent observations in Africa show that people are now discarding or trashing this fabulous skill, calling them, “a waste of money”, and “not efficient at all.”(Wong) Our DERT club members made two systems this year. We concluded that it works well especially on pechays. What are the reasons for ignoring this precious skill? How much of these reasons are based on real proofs and conclusions? If beneficial uses of the technology are found, how or what is the best way to introduce this technique to the Ayta Abellens and others in Mountainous Luzon area?

The process will be to research the biology of pechay and ways to construct the drip irrigation system through a search of Internet, literature and the Bible as well as interviewing people that have knowledge about the drip irrigation system’s effect on pechays. These findings will provide enough experience, proofs, theories and research about this system.

The goal of this system will be to provide enough and sufficient amount of petchay and other sorts of food so that Ayta Abellans and the southern Luzoners could survive the heat without suffering from it.


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Common Names and Synonyms



Brassica rapa is also called Bok Choy. To people of Korea, it’s also known as Baechu because Baechu means “ugly” and King Sunjo called it Baechu. Other synonyms are Mizuna (Japan), Agurana and Pe Choy (Vietnam). In Philippines, it is called either “petchay” or pechay.










Kingdom: Plantae (plants)

Phylum: Magnoliophyta (Flowering)

Class: Magnoliopsida (Flowering plants)

Order: Pekinensis (family of flowering plants)

Family: Chinensis (mustard & cabbage family)

Genus: Brassica (Mustard family)

Species: Brassica rapa (Mustard, field)




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Morphology and Physical Description



Pechay can grow to a maximum size of 20 cm but mostly it grows around 10 cm in length. The leaf shape of this plant is globular, (meaning it’s round) or partly globular. The leaves are arranged as follows: 2 small leaves at the center, 4 medium sized ones surrounding it, and then the 8 biggest leaves surrounding the entire medium sized ones. Their roots are mostly thin, and not long. But some might have the opposite, long ones inside, short ones outside. This means that it grows using fibrous root system, meaning they absorb water by the root’s surface area.

The upper part of the plant is thicker and rounder than below, and it is green on the top and white on the bottom. During the day the leaves spread and stretch in order to obtain the sun’s light and they closes when they become cold at night.


Internally, pechay has three interesting and unique characteristics. First is that this plant contains 98% of pure vitamin C in it and second is that it carries on food production (photosynthesis) twice as fast the normal mustard plant, and third is that the upper part of the pechay is the part where photosynthesis is used to make food. Additionally, the colors of the flowers are either yellow or green, depending on it’s pedigree, the lineage of an organism.




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Getting Food


Pechays are producers, (or heterotrophs) which means that they are self‐feeders, and they donate themselves to the primary consumers like gazelles and plant eaters (herbivores). They produce their food like any ordinary plants by using photosynthesis. They are never found in extreme hot and cold areas because they cannot carry photosynthesis out. That’s why temperate or cold‐tolerant Pechay cultivars prefer temperatures between 13 and 20oC. However cultivars prone to bolting, particularly michihilitypes, may require warmer temperatures. Where temperatures frequently exceed 35oC, tropical or ‘cold‐sensitive’ cultivars need to be grown. Under these conditions temperate cultivars are unlikely to form heads and are susceptible to disease. In general, Pechay can be grown in temperate and tropical climates, given adequate rainfall or irrigation. It is a shallow‐rooted crop and does not tolerate drought. Pechay require deep, well‐drained soil because it is susceptible to root rots. It has been grown successfully on arrange of soil types from light, sandy loams to quite heavy loams. A soil pH of 5.5 to 7 is ideal and lime should be applied if the pH is below 5.5, as calcium and other nutrients may be unavailable to the plants at low pH. Liming may also reduce the effect of clubroot if that diseases present. A fine, well‐prepared, raised bed can help to prevent soil compaction, improve drainage and improve air circulation around the base of the plants, which will reduce the incidence and severity of diseases.




Pechay reproduces, or pollinates asexually when male plants send off their pollen into the air so that they can fly and reach the female plant’s ovary. All this means that pechays have flowers which send off pollen (if male) and receive the pollen (if female). Their flowers develop when they are 21 weeks old. Additionally, the colors of the flowers are either yellow or green, depending on it’s pedigree, a lineage of an organism. After fertilization, when they are ready to be sown, Pechay  are sown directly from seed or transplanted into a fine, well‐prepared, raised seed bed. When sown from seed it is common practice to sow two to three seeds per station 12–15 mm deeping the soil and thin by hand after germination. It is recommend to sow seed at a rate of 500–750g/ha which will give a plant spacing of approximately 35 cm. Common plant spacing are 30 cm between plants and rows, 37.5 cm between plants in the same row and 30 cm between rows to produce heads around one kg and a row spacing of 40 cm with a plant spacing of 35 cm for wong bok and 30 cm for michihili types to produce heads between 1 and 1.8 kg


Environmental Factors


Pechay lives in groups, which means that they are farmed. It lives in the temperature ranging from 25C to 34C. There are some diseases that may use pechay as a host. These include parasitic diseases. The parasites that are known to be harmful to pechay are tomato fruit worms. They say these are the ones that destroy pechay farming every year. The second environmental factor is the temperature. They can survive in the temperature as low as 20c but when it goes below it, and then they will have hard time adjusting to the environment and will be small in size. Also, some of the more important diseases or parasites include the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris which causes black rot, club rot caused by the slime mould fungus Plasmodiophora brassicae, turnip mosaic virus (TuMV),cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV),diamondback moth (Plutellaxylostella) and cabbage aphid(Brevicoryne brassicae). Clubroot is a serious disease of cruciferous plants and Pechays are highly susceptible of. The fungus is soil‐borne enters the plant through the root hairs on young plants or through wounds on the roots or stem, causing the roots to become thick and distorted. Severely affected roots cannot absorb water and minerals from the soil and produce stunted plants which usually fail to produce a marketable head. Clubroot spreads readily through infected seedlings, in water and in soil attached to equipment and the boots of workers. It is a very hardy organism and can survive and remain infectious for at least 20 years in the absence of suitable host.



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Origin and Distribution


Pechays originated from China, inhabiting a vast amount of the land. It has been introduced to Europe and is farmed for people who love the rich bitterness of this plant. There are some who believe that pechay originated from Africa but pechay is from China, that’s for sure.



Importance to People




In some places in Southern Europe, pechay has been introduced from its native range, probably discarded by farms that stopped producing them. They have also been introduced to other continents including North and South America. Since it’s rich in vitamins, many of the Filipinos cultivate it and often sell it for a reasonable price.



Pechays are valued to many people as a food, though some people hate them due to their bitterness. However, they are of great value because they provide vitamins to those who can’t afford to buy vitamins (mostly Filipinos). This plant has no negative effects on people who eat it, except for the bitterness (for some people). How they cook the pechay is that, first they rinse them, letting the dirt and sand wash away, then they steam it with rice, and beef, making a food called “tapa.” This specie now is considered as “The Fountain of Vitamin” in the Philippines due to the vitamins that are found in this specie. This specie may be the most dominant plant that is being sold in markets in Philippines



Survivability and Endangered Status


The recovering power or the resilience of pechay is medium. It has a minimum population doubling time of between 80 days and 90 days. When they are grown, they are either grown for food or for experiment. If they are grown for food, then about 3 to 4 hectares of pechays will be grown, and if not, then it will just be grown in small sized gardens and farms.



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Potential Solutions


Is the drip irrigation system on pechay good or bad?  It has not been established at this point by this researcher whether the drip irrigation system is a effective thing for pechays that is helping with growing pechays or whether it is simply an introduced system that may prove to be a valuable new system.  Further research and field studies about the design and cost for the drip irrigation system are necessary before determining if the drip irrigation system is an asset or liability to the poor families living in the Ayta Abellen and people that live in rocky places.  There seems to be several promising livelihood possibilities that may be able to benefit the poor families living around the Ayta Abellen area of the Southern Luzon. Below are 3 possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each.   


Possibility 1


POSSIBILITY 1 Mass production of System



From a journal of a local Filipino found in the summer of 2007, there was a fascinating observation, or journal about how Jan and his grandfather at Manila grew pechay using drip irrigation system. They, Jan and his grandfather carefully planned the design to make drip irrigation system and they skillfully made a drip irrigation system using recycled plastic and ropes. Then they made an arch by connecting the tips using ropes and they said it only took two hours to poke hole, tie and make an arch. Looking back, there were at least six of them in their farm. They said that they have two more farms that they are taking care of now. It was also found out that only Jan and his grandfather were making this system.




1. This made the farmers to get less tired because this system watered the crops automatically without farmers going around watering them. This also made their work a lot more easier because when they wanted to spray vitamins or fertilizers to plants, instead of going around, throwing fertilizer balls and vitamins, they just needed to put vitamins and fertilizers into the buckets so that it would go and get sprayed along with water. 


2. As of what they said, not only this system helped the plants to grow well, it also made the plants to have more leaves, making them cost a lot more than before because what they, or Filipinos usually eat are the leaves and they've produced lot more leaves so the price went up.





1.  This required a lot (for Filipinos) of money because, they needed to buy buckets that are as huge as tires and recycled plastics that are only sold at certain places. Also, people lacked tools which made the production of the system even harder. They could not find enough tools so they ordered the carpentry to do the job for them, causing them to use a lot of money.

2.  The logistic of finding a perfect place for this system was also a disadvantage. They had to put this at the shade because too much heat will cause the water or the nutrient inside to evaporate, they had to carefully dig out this system whenever the heavy rain was upon them, they also had to keep this system away from children because too many children means too many problems due to the fact that they are interested in everything and might destroy or damage the system. Not only they could damage the system, but they could also injure themselves. So major set back will be made during the lookout for the perfect spot.



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Possibility 2


POSSIBILITY 2 enlarging the system so that it could hold more water and nutrients in it.


Why not try to make them big and strong if this system could give people positive effect: growing crops during hot season? 




1.  If this system gets enlarged then it would hold more water and nutrients in it so that people would not have to go to the river or fall to get water very often. Also, the enlargement of this system might attract tourists because people nowadays do not know about how this system works and what this is. The enlargement of this system might cause "killing 2 birds with 1 stone" situation.

2.  The enlarged system might become perfect place for purifying water because this system uses gravity, a pulling behavior of the earth to make the water go down and go through the tubes. Few bedrocks, sandstones and plastics would make a perfect purifier. Purifiers are necessity for lots of people because people living in mountainous places lack clean water to drink.




1.  The disadvantage is the enlargement itself. When they are small, they are okay to be carried and are easy to be carried to other places in case of flood and heavy rain or avalanche (possibly) but when they are enlarged, it will be hard to dissemble them and run with systems when people are in flood, heavy rain and avalanche situations due to the systems that became heavy.

2.  There might be people or animals that could vandalize the systems. If they do, then due to the system's large sizes, it will be hard for them to buy and repair the damaged places again. Also, it will cost a lot of money for some people because as mentioned before, this system needs plastics and ropes that only certain places have.


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Possibility 3


POSSIBILITY 3 building a drip irrigation system in chief's house or the leader of the tribe.


If this is built on chief's house or the house of the leader, then they will try the system, and tell them whether this system is good or not. If this system is good then they, the chiefs or the leader of the tribes will promote them and the others in their tribe or group will imitate the system that chiefs have and they will promote the system again if the system was successful again. Maybe this would cause the farmers and people living in mountainous places to interact with each other, cooperate and live prosperously together.




1.  If it can be shown that the solution acts as a growth enhancer, the production level of homegrown vegetables can be improved, along with people’s livelihood. This will eventually make people interact with each other because this system was designated to do so: to make people interact with each other.

2.  Since a Christian worldview emphasizes better stewardship of God‐given resources, the ability to utilize this system as a beneficial cheap fertilizer rather than a annoying useless piece of trash honors God through creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness.




1.  The people might think that giving this system only to the tribe leader is unfair. They might become sad and eventually leave the tribe for good. Also, the bond between the chief and the commoner would become loose because the commoners think that it’s unfair.

2.  If the chief tells the others that the system is a failure, they might blame the failure upon people who made the system. If they do blame, then the interaction between each other, foreigner to tribe and tribesmen and chief will not happen because they will start to hate the things we do for them and things we make for them.


Action step


 When trying to contact the Stones through e-mail and cellphone, 2 problems occurred. First problem was, my load was insufficient. My cellphone, which had received 300 pesos into it's account that day lost all of it's balance due to Myself calling friends and spending money on buying games through internet. So, asking my mother was very scary yet intense so I failed to contact the stones through cellphone. Second problem was that my internet was so slow and lethargic that it couldn't even send a letter. I tried to send an e-mail through my internet several times but I couldn't send my e-mail to the Stones. So instead, I visited Jan's farm in order to get my questions answered. When I went there, Jan was sleeping along with his grandfather. So I gently jostled him, and he woke up. He was so angry at me and I wanted to go away as soon as possible. So I started asking him about my questions and got it all answered.

After all this, I asked him if I could take a picture of his drip irrigation system. But he declined. I don't know why and I was hoping to see his drip irrigation system. I asked him, "where did you get the system?" and he said, from person that he knew, which is an American. I asked him, "is that guy's name Bugbee?" and he said no. so instead of taking a picture of his drip irrigation system, I took a picture of his healthy, long and gigantic pechays before I left for home.




This is the picture of Jan:



This is his farm: 




Before leaving, I asked Jan, what do you plan to do? And he said he will plant things for rest of his life. Also, I've talked with him about how many times he waters the plant each day and he said 3 times. Normally, pechays, with their fibrous root systems don't need a lot of water because they have surface area which makes them to absorb more water. 2 times a day would be enough for the pechays but instead of giving water 2 times a day, Jan gave them water 3 times a day. In the bible, it says that "God gave us the earth and we are commanded to take care of the earth." I think what Jan was doing was right. Though most people who have drip irrigation system are lazy due to the fact that it lessens the work, only Jan was the one who kept on giving water to plants 3 times a day. This shows how much Jan cared about his plants. A good steward of God should be eager to do harsh jobs. Also, we talked about expanding his farm towards the edge of Luzon and he eager and happy just to talk about his farm growing big. God maybe has a plan for him: to expand to the southern Luzon.

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1. Parkinson, Rhonda. “Bok Choy.” Chinese food. 21 June 2007. About Asia. 4 May 2008



2. Leben, Josiah. “Bok Choy.” Bok Choy. 12 Feb 2005. Health notes. 4 May 2008 http://www.naturesbounty.com/vf/healthnotes/hn_live/Food_Guide/Bok_Choy.htm.


3. Wong, Jia. “Bok Choy.” Chinese cabbage and bok choy science page. 7 Aug 1996. National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program. 4 May 2008 



4. Laruan, Mary. “Strawberry Crinkle Virus.” Thesis Abstract. 1 May 2005. Saint Louis College. 4 May 2008



5. Trento, Nicola. “Ginisang pechay ay tokwa.” DcookingMura. 4 May 2008. Blogspot



6. Bauer, Michaels. “Quick facts.” Drip irrigation for home gardens. 12 Nov 2005. Colorado State University.



7. Strykers, Jess. “Water saving.” Irrigation tutorials. 7 Feb 2008. irrigationtutorials.



8.  Langbayan, Jan. Personal Interview. 2 May 2008.




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