Hawai‘i rightly takes great pride in its rich agricultural history, the mālama ‘āina (deep care, stewardship, and respect for the land) of the Native Hawaiians, and no doubt much can be learned from the past. This being said, most conservation and resource management discussions in Hawai‘i pertaining to the revitalization of local agriculture tend to be far too insular, and focused on Eden-like interpretation of the past and anecdotal commentary for impactful progress to be made on viable paths forward. Yes, pre-European contact agriculture was self-sufficient, organic by practice, and did not rely on external inputs, however many bio-cultural, technological, and socio-political parameters have changed since that time. And there is strong evidence that pre-European contact agriculture and aquaculture had much greater impacts on Hawai‘i’s environment than previously thought (Kirch, 1982; Anderson et al., 2017). Native Hawaiian upland field systems based largely on intensive ‘uala (sweet potato) cultivation in the highly valued locations of greater natural soil fertility would have eventually run into sustainability challenges induced by gradual soil nutrient depletion (Vitousek et al., 2004; Hartshorn et al., 2006). In this regard it is also worth noting that no till aboriculture/agroforestry based on cultivation of ‘ulu (breadfruit) trees had some distinct environmental and subsistence agriculture advantages and should be further investigated (Rolett, 2008).
By Chantal Vos, Researcher, and Norman Arancon, Associate Professor of Horticulture.
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas, L.) production along the Hamakua Coast can be increased by addressing nutrient imbalances in the soil. Sweet potato is an important crop in Hawai‘i both for local consumption and as an export crop and more than 90 percent is produced along the Hamakua Coast on the island of Hawai‘i (Miyasaka and Arakaki, 2010). Most commercial sweet potato farmers on Hawai‘i Island do not test their soil or crops on a regular basis for potential nutritional problems. Fertilizers are often applied indiscriminately based on prior experience or current practice from other growers, whether these areas have been cropped for many years or are newly cleared for cultivation. Soil fertility is often not optimal, even on land that has never been cultivated with sweet potato (virgin land). During crop production, available nutrients are lost through leaching, run-off, and crop harvest. Nutrient balances are distorted, and fallow periods have demonstrated limited capacity to adequately restore and build soil fertility. This being said, fallows will generally reduce many disease and pest problems (Bennett et al., 2012).
There was information on sustainable agriculture, farming, animal production, bee harvesting, and aquaponics by the students of horticulture, animal science, entomology, beekeeping, sustainable agriculture, value-added products and aquaculture.
By Justin Ziminsky.
The College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo opened its annual Ag Fair Day on April 27, 2018. The fair was very educational for students and visitors alike. There was a lot of information on sustainable agriculture, farming, animal production, bee harvesting, and aquaponics available for everyone by the students of horticulture, animal science, entomology, beekeeping, sustainable agriculture, value-added products and aquaculture.
Some 205 students from local pre-K and high schools all over the Big Island toured the gardens by the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Library Lanai during the celebration of this year’s Earth Day. The gardens were showcased by the Ag230 students of spring 2018. This has been a regular contribution of the class to Earth Day celebrations since these gardens were established in 2009 by former students.