The Food Provider ~ Mar | Apr | May 2011

In This Issue


Aloha Kākou

Welcome to the Spring 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.

Check out our featured farmer! Fred Lau is a well-established nurseryman who has expanded his operation in recent years to include high value vegetables and fish to improve profits and reduce reliance on imported inputs. Their family farm works to balance the idealism of sustainable agriculture, with the realities of operating a profitable business. You will see some other exciting ideas relative to sustainable agriculture in this issue. Specific topics include compost tea (the plants drink it, not you), training young (and not so young) entrepreneurs, and optimizing nutrient and water use efficiency in crops. We have also included a new feature this issue: The Organic Update. This box will highlight specific announcements and programs from the National Organic Program (NOP) and other resources directly relevant to certified organic growers.

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

Featured Farmers: Fred and Brendon Lau
Mari’s Garden, Mililani, Oʻahu

Lettuce growing at Mari's Garden in Mililani

Area Under production: 17.5 acres

Growing since: 1976 (Mākaha), 2008 at current location

Crops: Mixed species ornamentals, including palms and some turf, have been integrated with aquaponic production of tilapia (300 lbs/week), lettuce (2 acres) and other vegetables; cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, beets, etc.

Fertility Management: Commercial synthetic fertilizers are used in most of the ornamentals. Recently, an estimated 14,000 gallons of fish effluent per week have replaced commercial fertilizers in approximately 200 shower trees, 200 palms, 1 acre of greenhouse, and about 0.25 acre each of turf grass, banana, and longon. Seedlings are grown in peat mix with commercial organic fertilizer. Vegetables are fertilized in floating beds with fish effluent amended with chelated iron (NOP compliant), and no additional fertilizers or pH adjustment.

Pest Management: NOP compliant Neem and Spinosad based pesticides are used as needed in the vegetables. Pest tolerant varieties are used when available. Tomato and cucumbers are grown in screen houses. Commercial synthetic pesticides are used in the ornamental crops.

What Sustainability means to you: Reduced food imports and reduced use of imported inputs. Increased food production on marginal land. Improved water use efficiency. Economic viability.

How did the next generation successfully integrate into the family farm? Exposing as many youth as possible to the farm/nursery. Son Brendon and employee Suzanne are actively involved with farm operations and were attracted by the day-to-day challenges, hands-on work outside, and the potential to make a living.

How do you price your products? We calculate all costs to determine cost ($) per unit area (sq ft) per month, then price products to make sure we are making a profit. This has been easy with the ornamentals and vegetables. We are still working on this process with the fish.

Where do you market your products? On-site in Mililani, Hawaii Farm Bureau markets, Umeke Market, Kokua Cooperative, and Down-to-Earth.

How do you promote your products? We have not needed to promote, we cannot keep up with demand. As we expand, we have plans to develop our website and farm visits (Agritourism).

How do you adapt production to meet the needs of clients? We are Food Safety certified and are planning to organically certify our food production areas in the near future.

What does the future look like for your farm? In addition to the organic certification, we plan to increase the aquaponic lettuce production area by 0.50 acre and add a 5,000 square foot screened greenhouse for tomato and cucumber production in the near future.

Mahalo nui loa to Fred and Brandon Lau for this interview. Photos: T. Radovich

Lau Ohana and Suzanne

Hot Tip from Mari’s Garden

Know your costs and set your price; do not be a price taker. Develop your market before you grow because there is no time to market while you are harvesting.

PDF version of this article

From the Field

Promoting plant growth with Compost Teas

Compost tea equipment

Evidence indicates that compost extracts, often referred to as compost tea, can improve plant production by decreasing disease incidence, improving the plant’s nutritional status, and generally promoting growth. Several producers and landscape managers in Hawaii use compost tea. This article summarizes their current practices for compost tea use and presents some preliminary conclusions and recommendations, based on recent research.

READ the full article here.

FMI: Ted Radovich, Email: theodore@hawaii.edu; Archana Pant, Email: apant@hawaii.edu; Nguyen Hue, Email: nvhue@hawaii.edu; Jari Sugano, Email: https://mail.google.com/a/hawaii.edu/images/cleardot.gifsuganoj@ctahr.hawaii.edu, Norman Arancon, Email: normanq@hawaii.edu

Growing Your Business

Keiki Kuleana

Understanding Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship often brings to mind a business and making money. An entrepreneur sees an opportunity, figures out a way to acquire the needed resources, and acts to turn the opportunity into wealth. The wealth can be measured in cultural, social, environmental or financial terms. This article explains how you can become more entrepreneurial.

READ the full article here.

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

Sustainable & Organic Research News

Nitrogen Synchronization from Organic Manure Applications as measured from Soil Solution and SPAD Readings for growing sweet corn

Amjad Ahmad conducting field work.

Amjad Ahmad, Email: alobady@hawaii.edu, Ali Fares, Email: afares@hawaii.edu, and N. V. Hue, Email: nvhue@hawaii.edu

This article investigates whether relative chlorophyll content (RCC) can be used to identify the relationship between N released by organic manures and N needs by sweet corn, so that organic producers can increase the efficiency of fertilization. The NO3–N concentration within and below the root zone and RCC of the sweet corn were evaluated for chicken and dairy manures at various application rates and frequencies. The significant results indicated that NO3–N concentration within and below the root zone and the plant leaf RCC were highest for the chicken manure treatments followed by the dairy manure treatments, relative to the control treatment. The optimal synchronization period likely occurred between 60 to 75 days after manure application or 30 to 45 days after seeding.

READ the full article here.

Effect of Irrigation Regime on Yield and Quality of Three Varieties of Taro (Colocasia esculenta)

Taro trials at Waimanalo Expt. Station

Jensen Uyeda, Email: juyeda@hawaii.edu, Ted Radovich, Email: Theodore@hawaii.edu, Jari Sugano, Email: suganoj@ctahr.hawaii.edu, Ali Fares, Email: afares@hawaii.edu, and Robert Paull, Email: paull@hawaii.edu

The experiment described in this article examines the relationships between five irrigation drip rates based on reference evapotranspiration (ET0) replaced, and the yield and quality of three commercial taro varieties: ‘Bun long’, ‘Lehua’, and ‘Paʻakala.’ The results indicate that replacing 150% ET0 through irrigation can be sufficient to maximize the yield for ‘Bun long’ and ‘Pa’akala.’ However, replacing irrigation up to 250% ET0 to a lowland variety such as ‘Lehua’ did not result in yields comparable to flooded systems. Irrigation had no significant effect on any of the quality factors. In addition, modeling taro production in order to maximize water use efficiency has potential because percent ET0 replaced can be used to predict corm weight.

READ the full article here.

Root growth of sweet corn as a function of organic manure applications to a Mollisol (Waimanalo soil) of Oʻahu, Hawaii

Corn trials at Waimanalo Expt Station

Amjad Ahmad, Email: alobady@hawaii.edu, N. V. Hue, nvhue@hawaii.edu, and Ali Fares, Email: afares@hawaii.edu

This article present the results of research done to examine the effects of chicken and dairy manures at various application rates and frequencies on the root density, mean root weight, percentage of roots at 0-15 cm and 16-30 cm depths, and total roots per plant for sweet corn. The results indicate that a significant increase in sweet corn root growth occurred in the top 15 cm of  soil for organic amendments as compared to the control treatment. These results can assist producers in developing more efficient irrigation and fertilization strategies.

READ the full article here.

Pigeon peas: A Multipurpose Crop for Hawaii

Pigeonpeas, Cajanus cajan

Hector Valenzuela, Email: hector@hawaii.edu

Throughout the tropics, pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan) are used for food, animal feed, firewood, medicine, fencing, roofing, shade, and basket making. Today, pigeon peas are used in Hawaii primarily as a cover, alley crop, and in home-gardens. The plant is an excellent source of organic nitrogen, tolerates low fertility soils and drought conditions, serves as a windbreak and as a shade source. This article details the ecological services that are provided by pigeon peas in order to encourage their use in agroforestry systems, on the farm, and in home gardens.

READ the full article here.

Message from Colehour Bondera, NOSB Board Member

Colehour Bondera , Email: colemel@efn.org

Colehour Bondera of Honaunau, Hawaii has been appointed by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) for a five-year term. Mr. Bondera currently serves on the Crops Committee and the Livestock Committee. This article gives more information about how to work with the first Hawaii resident to serve on the NOSB to make your voice heard.

READ the full article here.

For more information about CTAHR's research, see our monthly CTAHR Research News Magazine.

Organic Update


The USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations throughout the world. This new section, Organic Update, will summarize information from The NOP Organic Insider, which informs the organic community on a wide range of NOP functions including organic standards, accreditation and international activities, compliance and enforcement, the National Organic Standards Board, training events, and the Cost Share program.

READ the full article here.

To subscribe directly to the NOP Organic Insider: http://bit.ly/NOPOrganicInsiderRegistration

Publications & Programs

Fertilizers for hydroponic lettuce

New from CTAHR

New from Permanent Agriculture Resources

Workshops | Conferences | Meetings

Hawaii Commercial Aquaponics Training, April 4-7th, 2011. Friendly Aquaponics, Inc., PO Box 1196, Honoka’a, HI 96727. Friendly Aquaponics is certified organic. Subscribe to their electronic newsletter at their website.

Hawai‘i Agritourism Association Polycom Meeting: Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 10:00 – 11:30 am. For polycom locations and to RSVP, contact hatainfo@hiagtourism.org. FMI: Hawai‘i AgriTourism Association.


Symptoms of downy mildew on basil

UH CTAHR’s Agricultural Diagnostic Service Center (ADSC) recently confirmed Downy Mildew on sweet basil on Oahu. Only 9 states in US have this pathogen.

: Many things are happening on the agricultural scene that may affect activities in Pacific islands, including Hawaii. This brief highlights potentially useful information from a well-respected source entitled The Kiplinger Agriculture Letter.

The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) recently launched an online series of case studies that provide beginning and transitioning farmers with a unique virtual resource.  The “Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” project uses photos, videos, and narratives to integrate personal stories of profiled farmers with detailed information on their practices. The “Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture” project is located at http://sustagprofiles.info.

If you have a Facebook account, simply search for "Beef Initiative Group - University of Hawaii" and "Like" our page to receive research updates, CTAHR publication releases, workshop announcements, pictures, videos, and more on beef production in Hawaii from this cross-disciplinary team.

Funding Opportunities

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has entered into two separate cooperative agreements with the Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reimburse a portion of the cost of organic certification.  Both of these agreements are in effect between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011.  Under the terms of these agreements, certified organic producers and handlers may be reimbursed 75% of the cost of their new or continued certification, up to a maximum of $750.  This is a continuation of the previous cooperative agreements that expired on September 30, 2010.  Funding available to reimburse qualified organic growers/producers remains at $75,000 for the covered period.  Funding to reimburse qualified organic processors/handlers has been increased to $20,000.  

Through the EQIP Organic Initiative, NRCS provides assistance to eligible producers for installation of conservation practices on organic or agricultural operations transitioning to organic production. According to statute, eligible producers include those who agree to develop and carry out an organic system plan (OSP), or develop and implement conservation practices for certified organic production that are consistent with an OSP.

The assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the EQIP program helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to achieve increased conservation benefits on their operations. EQIP is primarily used to provide financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices to address soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources.

A new organic provision targets organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production:

NRCS Organic Equip: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/organic/index.html

FMI Contact: Nicola Giardina, Natural Resources Specialist,  300 Ala Moana Blvd Rm 4-118, Honolulu HI 96850, Phone: 808-541-2600 x 155, Email: nicola.giardina@hi.usda.gov

Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program (WSARE)

WSARE logo

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: https://wsare.usu.edu/ 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