Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program

Volume 1: September | October | November 2009  

Providing science-based information to serve Hawaii's Farming Community
Hānai ʻAi
The Food Provider September | October | November 2009
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Welcome to the inaugural issue of HānaiʻAi, the sustainable agriculture newsletter of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Sustainable agricultural systems strive to profitably meet food and fiber needs without degrading the natural and human resources that ensure productivity in the long term. No single model for agricultural sustainability exists. Judicious use of chemical and genetic technology with increased reliance on biological cycles may occur or certified organic systems may be used that exclude many synthetic inputs.

Regardless of the model, achieving sustainability requires the integration of many tools and practices based on extensive knowledge and on-going research. 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.

We hope you find the newsletter valuable and welcome your input.

Sustainable & Organic Research &
Outreach News

News from Hawai'i's Researchers and Extension

Compost: Using it Effectively

Ted Radovich,
University of Hawai'i at Manoa, CTAHR

Composting is a controlled form of biological decomposition in which organic materials are combined and managed to produce a stable or mature product (compost) that can promote plant growth several ways. These include:

  • Enhance microbial activity of soils
  • Provide some plant nutrients
  • Ameliorate an buffer acids in soils
  • Improve N fertilizer use efficiency
  • Suppress disease
  • Increase water holding capacity
  • Improve soil structure
One of the most important characteristics of compost is the ratio of carbon to nitrogen by weight (C:N) it contains. Compost C:N should be about 20 to allow for release of plant available nitrogen and avoid “nitrogen robbing” from surrounding soil. Compost is relatively low in nutrients (nitrogen = 0.5-3%), and large amounts (20-40 tons per acre) generally need to be applied in the field to observe short term changes in soil quality or plant growth. The transportation and production costs associated with these application rates can be prohibitive. Innovative use of smaller quantities of compost may improve cost effectiveness and still provide benefits to plants. These include:
  • Combining with high nitrogen fertilizers to improve fertilizer use efficiency
  • Using aqueous compost extracts (compost tea) to extend applications over a larger area
  • Incorporating composts into seedling media to target applications directly to the seedling and replace imported materials
For more information on compost and composting, please see:

FMI: Ted Radovich, email:

Growing Your Business

Linda J. Cox,
University of Hawai'i at Manoa, CTAHR

Many agricultural operations do not know how profitable they were over the past year are until they complete their taxes the following year. Making good business decisions is difficult when much of the important information is not known until as much as a year later. If your profits are not as large as you would like them to be, you cannot make any changes to improve things until the next year. In order to plan ahead you will need a managerial information system that tells you your cost of production, among other things, so that you know what you must sell your products for in order to profitable.
Read here.

FMI: Linda J. Cox, email:

Improving sunn hemp benefits by integrating with solarization

Koon-Hui Wang ans Sharadchandra Marahatta,
University of Hawai'i at Manoa, CTAHR

If your land has been cropped continuously for a long period of time, you might want to plant a green manure cover crop to revitalize your soil. Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) has been identified as an ideal cover crop that can generate great amounts of organic biomass within 2 1/2 months of growth during spring to summer in Hawaii. Growers in Hawaii can also take advantage of solar heat to suppress various soil-borne pests. Recently, sunn hemp cover cropping followed by soil solarization to improve weed suppression was investigated.
Read here.
Sunn hemp for Soil Health and Nematode Management YouTube video

FMI: Koon-Hui Wang, email:

Grafting for Managing Soil-borne Diseases

Scot Nelson,
University of Hawai'i at Manoa, CTAHR

Plant grafting is a highly successful organic method used for the management of root pests of tree species worldwide. Pathogen-susceptible tree varieties are grafted onto the root stocks of related plant species that possess resistance to or tolerance of important plant diseases. Two research projects underway on the Big Island examine the potential of grafting to manage coffee nematode decline caused by the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne konaensis and koa wilt caused by the soilborne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. koae. These are the two most important and deadly diseases of Coffea arabica and Acacia koa in Hawaii.
Read here.

FMI: Scot Nelson, email:

Varroa Mite in Bees (CCP)

Mark Wright and Ethel Villalobos,
University of Hawai'i at Manoa, CTAHR

Varroa mite control posses many challenges since it may be difficult to kill mites without affecting the bees. Formic acid, an organic compound, can be used as a bio-pesticide for Varroa destructor control. A new formic acid treatment was tested at 42 hives and the large number of mites killed within the first ten days after treatment indicate that the treatment holds great promise.
Read here.

FMI: Mark Wright, email:
         Ethel Villalobos, email:

Publications & Programs

for sustainable and organic production systems

New from CTAHR


Beneficial Microorganisms

Many farmers would like to use micro-organisms such as Rhizobia and Mycorrhizae to enhance crop growth. Some local vendors are importing inoculum and many maniland sources are available. If you do import innoculum from the mainland, please be aware that you must obtain an approval from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Contact Amy N. Takahashi, Microorganism Specialist, Plant Quarantine Branch, 1849 Auiki Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819. Phone: (808) 832-0589. Fax: (808) 832-0584. Email:

For more information on using beneficial microorganisms in agriculture, please see:

What is the most common pesticide violation found on organic farms by Hawai'i HDOA?

Actually, it's the same problem found for all farms: lack of Worker Protection training and signage. This is a serious, but simple problem for farmers to fix. Training in the Worker Protection Standard is required for any employees at a farm (with the immediate family being exempt: mother, father, wife, children, brother, sister). A specific poster must be displayed and records of training and application must be kept. Farmers who are unaware can learn about the requirements from the pesticides education program by contacting Mike Matsukawa, HDOA 793-9424.

Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry

This report examines recent economic research on the adoption of organic farming systems, organic production costs and returns, and market conditions to gain a better understanding of the organic supply squeeze and other emerging issues in this rapidly changing industry.

Report highlights include:

  • More than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally.
  • Growth of the U.S. organic livestock sector is constrained by the lack of organic feed grain supplies.
  • The average retail prices of most organic fruits and vegetables are almost 30% more than those of conventional commodities.
  • Organic producers face competition from producers interested in other niche markets, particularly "locally grown."
For the full report, please see:

Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education Program (WSARE)

Grant Deadlines

  • 11/3 PDP Grant Application Due
  • 11/13 Research and Education Full Applications Due
  • 12/4 Farmer/Rancher Grant Applications Due
  • 12/4 Professional + Producer Grant Applications Due

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 Hawai'i. The goals of WSARE are:

  • Promote good stewardship of our natural resources
  • Enhance the quality of life of farmers and ranchers and ensure the viability of rural communities
  • Protect the health and safety of those involced in food and farm systems.
  • Promote crop, livestock, and enterprise diversification
  • Examine the regional, economic, social, and environmental implications of adopting sustainable agriculture practices and systems.
For more information, please see: or contact Hawai'i WSARE co-coordinators Dr. Ted Radovich ( and Jari Sugano (

Mahalo nui loa to Kalae Akioka and Kukui Maunakea-Forth for their guidance with naming our newsletter.

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.

To continue receiving this newsletter, please confirm your interest by updating your profile/email address (see link below). If this publication has been valuable, please forward it to others. Send in your suggestions for what you want to read about in our articles. Tell us about your research needs.

Mahalo nui loa,

Jari Sugano and Dr. Ted Radovich
Sarah Moore, technician and editor

Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program
Cooperative Extension Service
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

In this Issue



Featured Farmer

Ho Farms, Kahuku, O'ahu

Area under production:
30 acres

Years farming in Hawai'i:

Crops grown:
long beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, assorted tomato varieties

Fertility management:
synthetic fertilizers, fertigation, compost

Read full article here

Mahalo nui loa to Ho 'ohana for this interview and photos.


from Ho Farms

Focus on quality.

Diversify crops so you are not solely reliant on a single commodity, especially in the local market.


Featured Farmers

 Farmer Farm  Location   Featured Farmer Article
 Kyle Studer Pa'auilo Forest Farm  Honoka'a, Hawai'i   Vol 26: Sept | Oct | Nov 2016
  Vincent & Irene Mina   Kahanu Aina Greens  Wailuku, Maui  Vol 25: Jun | Jul | Aug | 2015
  Gerry Ross & Janet Simpson  Kupa'a Farms  Kula, Maui  Vol 24: Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec 2015
   Mark Suiso  Makaha Mangoes  Mākaha, O'ahu  Vol 23: Jun | Jul | Aug 2015
   Fung Yang  Small Kine Farm  Waimānalo, O'ahu
 Vol 23: Mar | Apr | May 2015
   Justin Franzmeier  Wailupe Farms & Island Foodscaping  Waimānalo, O'ahu  Vol 22: Dec 2014 | Jan | Feb 2015
   Jerry Ornellas  Jerry's Farm  Kapa'a Homestead, Kua'i       Vol 21: Sept | Oct | Nov 2014
   Paul & Charlie Reppun  Waianu Farm  Waiahole, O'ahu  Vol 20: Jun | Jul | Aug 2014
   Koa Chang  Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm  Kula, Maui  Vol 19: Mar | Apr | May 2014
   William Tubz Kalipi  Loko Maika'i Farm  Ho'olehua, Moloka'i  Vol 18: Dec 2013 | Jan | Feb 2014
   Chuck, Lily, & Pueo Boerner  ONO Organic Farms  Kipahulu, Maui  Vol 17: Sept | Oct | Nov 3013
   Ann & Owen Kaneshiro  Kane Farm  Wai'anae, O'ahu  Vol 16: Jun | Jul | Aug 2013
   Chriss Robb  Robb Farms  Waimea, Hawai'i  Vol 15: Mar | Apr | May 2013
   Myrone & Carol Murakami  Murakami Farm  Kahalu'u, O'ahu  Vol 14: Dec 2012 | Jan | Feb 2013
   Alex & Mimi Karp  Island Harvest Organics   Pahoa, Hawai'i  Vol 13: Sept | Oct | Nov 2012
   Susan & Chad Matsushima  Alluvion, Inc.  Halwiwa, O'ahu  Vol 12: Jun | Jul | Aug 2012
   Lani & Bill Petrie & Glen Krebs  Kapapala Ranch  Ka'u, Hawai'i  Vol 11: Mar | Apr | May 2012
   Ned & Marta Whitlock  Moloa'a Organica'a  Anahola, Kauai'i  Vol 10: Dec 2011 | Jan | Feb 2012
   Lorie Obra  Rusty's Hawaiian  Pahala, Hawai'i  Vol 9: Sept | Oct | Nov 2011
   Rick Tamanaha  Kaleikoa Farms  Ho'olehua, Moloka'i  Vol 8: Jun | Jul | Aug 2011
   Fred & Brendon Lau  Mari's Garden  Mililani, O'ahu  Vol 7: Mar | Apr | May 2011
   Faith & Tio Tuipolotu  Tuipolotu Farm  Ho'olehua, Moloka'i  Vol 6: Dec 2010 | Jan | Feb 2011
   Milton Agader & Aquilino Medrano  Twin Bridge  Waialua, O'ahu  Vol 5: Sept | Oct | Nov 2010
   Wooten 'Ohana  Kauia'i Kunana Dairy  Kilauea, Kauai'i  Vol 4: Jun | Jul | Aug 2010
   Chauncy Monden  Kula Country Farms  Kula, Maui  Vol 3: Mar | Apr | May 2010
   Tane & Maureen Datta  Adaptations  South Kona, Hawai'i  Vol 2: Dec 2009 | Jan | Feb 2010
   Ho 'Ohana  Ho Farms  Kahuku, O'ahu  Vol 1: Sept | Oct | Nov 2009

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