The Food Provider ~ December 2011| January | February 2012

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In This Issue


Aloha Kākou

Welcome to the 2011-2012 Winter issue of HānaiʻAi, the sustainable agriculture newsletter of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. The mission of HānaiʻAi is to provide a venue for dissemination of science-based information to serve all of Hawaii's Farming Community in our quest for agricultural sustainability.

Hawaii grown broccoli

In this issue we present research that will assist in reaching the overall goal of import replacement. Three of the articles examine how local inputs can reduce reliance on imported fertilizers. CTAHR economists provide information about the cost of production in Hawaii compared to other locations so we can better understand how to have a stronger competitive advantage. The O‘ahu RC&D also presents a summary of their recent workshop on land preservation and conservation easements, which can help keep land in agriculture.

We would like to announce our newest topic leader, Jayme Grzebik, who specializes in urban horticulture. Jayme, based at the Pearl City Urban Garden Center on O'ahu, is CTAHR’s Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator. Our Master Gardener Program educates the general public about the importance of local food and agriculture across the state. Dr. Mark Nickum, CTAHR’s new Extension Specialist for Fruit and Nut Crops, will be meeting with growers and other industry stakeholders in the next few months.

We would like to extend a warm mahalo to everyone who responded to our readership survey. Overall, the newsletter serves our readership by providing information on how to be more sustainable. We received many valuable suggestions, which we will use to improve the newsletter in upcoming months.

We hope you find this issue of HānaiʻAi useful, and welcome your input.

Featured Farmer: Ned and Marta Whitlock
Moloa'a Organica'a, Anahola, Kaua‘i

Moloa'a Organica'a Farm, Kauai

Area under production: 4 acres vegetables, 16 acres fruit, 4 acres hardwoods and bamboo.

Years farming in Hawaii: 9 years.

Crops: Lettuce, kale, broccoli, eggplants, sweet corn, herbs, beets, carrots, green beans, okra, fennel, radiccio, taro, yacon, radishes, collards, Swiss chard, bananas, papayas, mangos, citrus, avocados, pitayas, jack fruit, soursop.

Fertility management practices: compost, meat and bonemeal from Island Commodities, IMO, Sustane 4-6-4, spirulina, biochar, foliar seaweed, and fish.

Pest Management: crop rotation, Pyganic, Neemix, biological sprays such as BT and Serenade, M-pede, foliar applications of EM and Iron, Oxidate for fungi.

What does Sustainability mean to you? Being economically viable and enhancing beneficial biology on farm.

READ the full article here.

Mahalo nui loa to Ned and Marta Whitlock for this interview and for photographs.

Ned Whitlock

Hot Tip from Moloa'a Organica'a

Daily cash flow from diverse crops keeps a stable labor pool going which avoids farmer burnout.

Growing Your Business

Why Local Agricultural Products Cost So Much

Labor costs are high in Hawaii

A new CTAHR publication entitled A Comparison of Agricultural input Prices: Hawai‘i vs Its Major Export Competitors provides Hawai'i producers with some information about their costs relative to the cost of producers in other parts of the world. While this CTAHR publication focuses on the State’s export competitors, the information can also be used to understand the situation Hawai'i faces in reducing imports. This article highlights the cost information presented in this CTAHR publication and answers the frequently asked question “why do local agricultural products cost so much?”

READ the full article here.

FMI: Linda Cox, email: lcox@hawaii.ed

Sustainable & Organic Research News

Beneficial Use of Vermicompost in Aquaponic Vegetable Production

Taro grown in aquaponic system

Bradley K. Fox, email: bradleyf@hawaii.edu, Clyde S. Tamaru, email: ctamaru@hawaii.edu, Ted Radovich,  email: theodore@hawaii.edu, RuthEllen Klinger-Bowen, Kathy McGovern-Hopkins, Leina’ala Bright, Archana Pant, Ian Gurr, Jari Sugano, Brent Sipes, and C.N. Lee

Commercial aquaponic producers in Hawai'i need renewable micronutrient supplement strategies that decrease their reliance on synthetic imports. This article reports the results from several trials to determine the affect of aerated vermicompost tea on the nutrient deficiencies of aquaponic pak-choi, and the pH buffering capacity of seasoned aquaponic systems. Mature vermicompost was also added to seedling plugs to replace imported synthetic fertilizer.  The results indicate that vermicompost produces results significant enough to indicate that it can replace synthetic fertilizer in a commercial operation.

READ the full article here.

Worm castings stimulates germination of seedlings for aquaponics sytem

Oasis cube trials

C.N. Lee, email: chinl@hawaii.edu, D. Chang, A. Poon, C. Tamaru, email: ctamaru@hawaii.edu, B. Fox, email:  bradleyf@hawaii.edu, and T. Radovich, email: theodore@hawaii.edu

A series of trials was conducted to test the effect of small quantities of vermicompost on the growth of red amaranth, pak-choi, and Chinese mustard greens. Worm castings from cow manure, and worm castings from a vegetarian food source were compared with commercial organic compost and a control with no compost added. Results indicated that the various compost treatments enhanced germination and growth rates, with greatest response coming from the cow manure worm castings. For Oasis® cubes, using small quantities of compost in seedling production would shorten the time needed before transferring seedlings from the grow out phase by 7-10 days.

READ the full article here.

Using Manures to Improve Sweet Corn Biomass and its Nutrient Content

Waimanalo Experiment Station

Amjad Ahmad, email: alobady@hawaii.edu , Ali Fares, email: afares@hawaii.edu, Ted Radovich, email: theodore@hawaii.edu, and Nguyen Hue, email: nvhue@hawaii.edu

Animal manure and effluent can be used enhance soil fertility, crop productivity and quality, while at the same time minimizing animal waste disposal. This article presents research that found significant increases in sweet corn biomass production and nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) content in roots and shoots with applications of chicken or dairy manures, even at 600 lb/ac of total N. Chicken manure provided more N and better plant growth than dairy manure. The environmentally optimal rate of application appears to be about 300 lb/ac of total N.

READ the full article here.

Land Preservation in Hawai`i: A statewide workshop highlighting Conservation Easements and Land Preservation Tools

Oahu RC&D Land Preservation Workshop

Jean Brokish, Oahu RC&D, email: jean.brokish@oahurcd.org

The O‘ahu Resource Conservation and Development Council hosted a statewide symposium at McCoy Pavilion in Honolulu on January 12 that brought together experts in the conservation and preservation fields. Information was provided on the legal aspects of conservation easements that allow for the perpetual protection of private property for farming, conservation, or cultural preservation purposes. A summary of federal, state and county funding sources available for land acquisition was also presented.

READ the full article here.

For more information about CTAHR's research, visit our Office of Research Webpage.

Publications & Programs

Tea Time in the Tropics, a handbook for compost tea production and use

New from CTAHR

"Tea Time in the Tropics: A handbook for compost tea production and use" (edited by Theodore Radovich and Norman Arancon) is now available for $10 from the Sustainable and Organic Program. This 72-page booklet contains information on selecting high-quality compost, compost tea production, using compost tea to increase plant growth and quality, suppression of arthropod pests and diseases using compost teas, case studies from Master Brewers, and frequently asked questions. Contact Dr. Ted Radovich (theodore@hawaii.edu) to order a copy (checks payable to RCUH 02425). Limited supply available.

Available on-line from CTAHR's Publication and Information Central

Organic Update

USDA Organic Logo

From December 2011 – April 2012, NASS will conduct the survey nationwide targeting farm operators known by NASS and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to produce USDA organically certified crops and/or livestock. The information published as a result of the survey will be used by RMA to improve Federal crop insurance programs for organic crops, as required by the 2008 Farm Bill.

: http://web.pppmb.cals.cornell.edu/resourceguide/

: http://www.xerces.org/organic-farms/

Workshops | Conferences | Meetings

The mission of the Hawaii Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is to provide guidance and leadership to the landowners, land users, and the grazing industry in general with respect to the sound and wise use and management of all Hawaii’s grazing lands.

Seed Workshop Poster

READ full announcement here.

Learn from experts about how to start and maintain a thriving farm or ranch business. Make connections with other beginning farmers from around the United States. For questions about the conference contact info@start2farm.gov or (301) 504 6020.


Dr. Mark Nickum

Dr. Mark Nickum is CTAHR’s new Assistant Professor in Sustainable Fruit and Nut Crops.  He is planning to host formal strategic planning sessions as well as informal meetings with growers and other industry stakeholders in the next few months. 

Commissioned by Ulupono Initiative, "Local Food Market Demand Study of O‘ahu Shoppers" reveals that O‘ahu consumers are willing to pay more for local products, but often have trouble distinguishing what’s local and what’s imported. Six popular local products were evaluated: milk, eggs, bananas, tomatoes, lettuce and beef (rib-eye steak). A common reason for not buying local is the lack of consistency in finding local brands in the quantities desired.

is a trade publication for local food producers with valuable information about the business of growing and selling vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, plants, herbs, and other food products.

The includes a number of interesting articles showing how growers can benefit financially from being good environmental stewards. Read about some examples below:

is a Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse for new and beginning farmers.

on YouTube, also airs on my "Outside Hawaii" starting on January 22nd and KGMB on January 19th at 630pm.

Funding Opportunities

USDA NRCS (FY) 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

This year’s CIG projects focus on nutrient management, energy conservation, soil health, wildlife and CIG projects assessment.

Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program (WSARE) WSARE logo

Strengthening Agriculture’s Infrastructure: Adding Value, Breaking Down Barriers, Increasing Profits
December 3 – 5, 2012, Portland Oregon

Topics to be included:

For further updates and registration information, contact Stacie Clary, WSARE Communications Specialist,  (831) 419-5432, stacie.wsare@charter.net.

Read about camelina's potential in the High Plains, a successful farmstay website, the message from our Director, and more in the winter issue of Simply Sustainable.

Bookmark WSARE’s new website at  http://www.westernsare.org/

Since 1988, the WSARE program has been supporting agricultural profitability, environmental integrity and community strength through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the West, including Hawaii. The goals of WSARE are:

For more information, please see: http://www.westernsare.org/ or contact Hawaii WSARE coordinator Dr. Ted Radovich at theodore@hawaii.edu.

This e-publication has been prepared by CTAHR research scientists and extension staff to deliver science-based information about sustainable and organic production systems to serve Hawaii's farming community.

Mahalo nui loa,

Dr. Linda Cox and Dr. Ted Radovich
Jody Smith, e-Extension Manager
Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program
Cooperative Extension Service
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources