There have been lots of problems associated with lettuce in the news, from the E. coli outbreaks traced to mainland romaine to local concerns about leafy greens and rat lungworm disease. But O‘ahu Cooperative Extension offered a great way to eat your greens and feel safe about them, too, at the Hydroponic Field Day at the Waimanalo Research Station.
By integrating this project with the protected agriculture system in Waimanalo, agents, researchers, and ag techs were able to demonstrate that the combination of a hydroponic system with a screenhouse produced marketable yields of lettuce while advancing environmental conservation, integrated pest management, and food safety. Despite heavy winter rains and winds, the hydroponic lettuce was successfully grown without pesticides, bird and rodent damage, or threats from slugs or snails which can harbor Angiostrongyliasis, or rat lungworm disease.
Extension collaborated with the East County Hawaii Farm Bureau, Sustainable Pest Management Lab, PEPS Department, and the Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program to host the field day, which also demonstrated that 27 of the 40 lettuce varieties evaluated showed promising tip burn tolerance. New field trials are planned for summer 2019. Details about the project can be found here.