Farming

The threat of Tropical Nut Borer in Hawai‘i creates a significant threshold on macadamia nut production and proceeds.

By Damon Adamson.

Tropical Nut Borer and damaged nut
Tropical Nut Borer and damaged nut

The Tropical Nut Borer (TNB), Hypothenemus obscurus (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), was first identified in Hawai‘i—North Kona specifically—in 1988, with consequential studies conducted in the early 1990s. Initial studies determined TNB only affected Western Hawai‘i Island and with no other reports from Maui, O‘ahu, or Kaua‘i.

But within just a few years, TNB was found on all islands throughout the state, creating a significant threshold on macadamia nut production and proceeds. University of Hawai‘i studies conducted in the 1990s suggest a larger impact on orchards within dryer climates versus consistently wetter areas.

The baseline data this project will generate will be useful for decision makers and farmers as the state moves agriculture forward.

Aerial map of North Kohala with an overlay of graphics showing various farm crops color coded by commodity.
North Kohala Crop Land Summary from the Hawai‘i County Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study 2012. HDOA and UH Hilo are now surveying all agricultural lands throughout the state. Click to enlarge.
Jeff Melrose
Jeff Melrose

The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is collaborating with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on a statewide agricultural survey to provide a digital depiction of the 2015 agricultural footprint of the state. The project will include mapping current agricultural activity statewide, as well as water systems and irrigation options available to farmers and ranchers.

“The product is intended as a baseline depiction of our current agricultural use and will help to measure progress in the expansion of all agriculture, and particularly local food production, across the state,” says Jeff Melrose, a land planner and longtime agricultural land manager who is serving at HDOA as project manager of the survey.

Farmers need to base their decisions on facts, rather than misleading or inaccurate information and activist dogma, for sustainable intensification of agriculture to achieve its potential.

By Bruce Mathews, Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

There is presently a disconnect between the economic reality of Hawai‘i’s working farmers, educators, and the well-intentioned sustainability and food sovereignty idealism of governmental leaders, politicians, and community activists.

At most community agricultural meetings in Hawaiʻi, there are candid discussions regarding the growth and development constraints faced by the smallholder crop and livestock sectors. These discussions revolve around strong import competition from large continental-based operations, heavy dependence on imported energy and nutrient inputs for our farms, and a myriad of challenges associated with lease land, access to water and adequate infrastructure, labor constraints, lack of applied research and extension outreach, marketing, ability to comply with regulations, access to promising new cultivars, security, building equity, and sufficient financing.

A move to Organic and Organic Plus strategies in food production is how Hawai‘i food producers take back the power of the Hawai‘i brand.

By Joshua Willing, Student, AG100, Introduction to Agricultural Sciences.

Rows of lettuce.
A field of certified organic lettuce grows at Robb Farms in Waimea, Hawai‘i Island. Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center.

Food production in Hawai‘i sits in the middle of a great paradox, at once a lush natural paradise with a perfect climate for growing things, yet isolated, leading to inflated costs for Hawaii’s producers. The future of the Hawai‘i food industry will depend on producers’ ability to navigate a way that respects these inherent costs while utilizing the many benefits of the islands. Producers must decide on a model that best suits the economy.

My argument here is that this model already exists, and by using branding–in this case the brand of Hawai‘i itself–we will mitigate many unavoidable costs while at the same time enhancing the desirability of Hawai‘i’s food products. This will rely heavily on the Hawai‘i food industry as a whole moving toward an “Organic Plus” strategy (going beyond current organic standards), the goals of which coincide nicely with the natural boons of Hawai‘i’s food production.

One of the advantages of studying tropical agriculture on the Big Island is the opportunity we have as students to see a diversity of farming methods, all of which play a role in the island economy and community.

By Michael Sthreshley, Senior, Agriculture.

Michael Sthreshley, background is lava flowing into ocean with steam rising.
Michael Sthreshley

Following the graduation of several key members, the Agriculture Club at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has had a few changes in leadership starting in the fall of 2014. Among the new officers are Michael Sthreshley as president, and Miguel Bravo Escobar as vice president. Lukas Kambic and Rachel Gorenflo continue as treasurer and secretary, respectively.

The “Ag” Club has been working to establish new relations with the UH Hilo Farm Laboratory faculty. In previous semesters the club has had limited involvement with the university farm. Since the club represents our College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management and aims to open up opportunities to students, we wish to learn more and gain further experience with agriculture and related topics utilizing college’s facilities.

Each semester, the class helps clean up a fruit and vegetable garden at the Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha.

By Juan Avellaneda, Student, Agriculture.

Group of students gathered for photo.
Students in UH Hilo’s course on sustainable agriculture in fall 2014 gather for group photo. Click to enlarge.

Have you heard about the sustainable agriculture course (Ag230) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo? This course offers community outreach, sustainable practices, and the experience of designing your very own sustainable garden. The course is taught by Norman Arancon, associate professor of horticulture. Students in the course are separated into groups and are assigned different areas on the UH Hilo campus, where they get to plant, grow, and harvest their own food.

This article will give you an insight on one of the field trips taken in the course last fall. In this community outreach field trip, the class helped clean up a fruit and vegetable garden at the Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha.

Management options should be carefully considered since some treatments have the potential to be more damaging than the pests themselves.

By Noel Dickinson, BS in Agriculture, UH Hilo, 2014.

Vegetable Leafminer: Liriomyza sativae (Blanchard)

Adult vegetable leafminer, yellow bug on green foliage.
Adult vegetable leafminer, Liriomyza sativae (Blanchard). Photo by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

We’ve all seen them, white trails meandering across leaves in your  garden. Most of us know leafminers are the culprits, but what is a leafminer? When these trails are observed they are usually empty, as if they’ve been traced by some phantom pest.

In mid-September, I observed what I believed to be leafminer damage on the foliage of hydroponic tomato plants in the hydroponic greenhouse, at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Farm Laboratory in Panaewa. I came to the immediate conclusion that the damage was done by leafminers because of the conspicuous grey, serpentine lines on the leaves of the plants, a symptom specific to all leafminer species.