Evaluating botanical pesticides.
Sustainable agriculture means feeding today’s people and supporting today’s farmers while managing resources wisely to ensure we can also provide for future generations. This goal is at the heart of our college’s organic agriculture program. Whether you’re a commercial producer, a garden hobbyist, or a curious student, CTAHR can help you grow food while minimizing synthetic inputs and promoting soil health.
Organic agriculture relies on ecological interactions among plants, animals, and microorganisms, especially in soil, to replace petroleum-based fertilizers and most pesticides. CTAHR is testing many approaches relevant to organic agriculture, including the use of cover crops, compost, and charcoal to improve crop and soil health; selection of hardy crop varieties; and integrated pest management techniques such as biocontrol (using natural enemies to control pests).
Coordinated by researcher Ted Radovich, CTAHR’s Organic Agriculture Working Group comprises more than 30 faculty and staff members with expertise in agricultural ecology, soil fertility, disease and pest management, and business management and marketing. The organic program’s website, www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/organic, makes it easy to contact working group members, access publications and online workshops, and learn more about a recent collaborative analysis of Hawai‘i’s organic sector that brought together producers, retailers, distributors, inspectors, and educators, including representatives from CTAHR, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, the Hawai‘i Organic Farmers Association, and the Hawai‘i Cooperative of Organic Farmers.
CTAHR’s educational programs in organic agriculture attract young and old alike. Volunteer master gardeners on O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i have been trained to give advice on organic and sustainable practices. Through the Student Organic Farm Training program, UH Manoa students are growing organic crops at the Waimanalo Research Station. An organic food production class, Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences 220, is popular with both undergraduates and retirees. Outreach projects are engaging high-school students to foster lifelong interest in agriculture. In the classroom and the community, CTAHR’s organic agriculture program is cultivating a multigenerational commitment to sustainable farming in Hawai‘i.