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.
In today’s highly competitive world, students need to realize that graduate programs in agriculture are increasingly looking for students with greater preparation in the natural sciences, biotechnology, statistics/predictive analytics than the minimum requirements for a BS in agriculture.
A fall 2017 University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) survey of College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) students was recently shared with me by student Alexis Stubbs. The survey indicated that nearly 60% want a government job, a little over 25% will seek a career in some aspect of farming, about 5% want to work in the agricultural/landscape service sector, and the rest don’t know.
This information may be a bit concerning, particularly if one means a government job in agriculture as the number of annual entry level openings in permanent governmental agriculture positions are very limited in Hawaiʻi relative to the numbers of graduates. In terms of further graduate studies nearly 40% indicated that they definitely want to attend graduate school while nearly 35% indicated no intention of further studies. These data are also concerning given that quite a few students that I visit with seem to lack much of an idea about how to best prepare themselves for graduate studies and how to optimize their competitiveness for graduate school assistantships and scholarships.
Directed studies provide opportunities for students to engage in some of the most interesting and rewarding educational experiences while in college.
Directed studies at the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management provide opportunities for University of Hawai’i at Hilo students to engage in some of the most interesting and rewarding educational experiences while in college. The following is a glimpse of some of the activities students in CAFNRM are doing to fulfill their requirements in directed studies while producing useful research data and significant community service:
Ellison Montgomery is a recent graduate of CAFNRM, who came back to get more experience in applied sciences. She is working on acclimatizing native plants raised in a nursery management course taught initially by now retired Professor of Horticulture William Sakai and continued by Assistant Professor of Entomology Jesse Eiben. She is also working on a little fire ant integrated pest management project in CAFNRM greenhouses. She is currently employed at Komohana Research and Extension Center.
Using the controversy over genetically-modified foods as its entry point, the film Food Evolution shows how easily fear and misinformation can overwhelm objective, evidence-based analysis. UH Hilo’s Prof. Shintaku weighs in.
Michael Shintaku, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is among the many scientists featured in the film Food Evolution that tackles GMO (or genetically modified organisms) in food production. The film includes footage of Hawai’i Island and is narrated by Academy Award nominee Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Dr. Shintaku stated that in 2013, the County of Hawai‘i passed a bill banning transgenic crops (GMOs) from Hawai‘i Island, with certain exceptions (later reversed in federal court). This became a national story, attracting reporters from The New York Times and other media outlets.
“This article describes the trends in milk production and consumption, the debates over the role of milk in human nutrition, the global outlook of organic dairy, the abatement of green-house gas emissions from dairy animals, as well as scientific and technological developments in nutrition, genetics, reproduction, and management in the dairy sector,” explains Lu.
Originally published in CAFNRM/Ag Club Newsletter.
Turmeric, Curcuma longa, also known as Curcuma domestica and locally known as ‘olena, has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for over 4,000 years.
By Maria McCarthy, Student, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, animal science track.
The use of plants for medicinal purposes has been practiced since man has walked the earth. The practice has changed over the years, as well as the methods of propagating the plants.
Turmeric, Curcuma longa, also known as Curcuma domestica and locally known as ‘olena, has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for over 4,000 years. The rhizome is the plant organ that contains all the sought out qualities.