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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: UHH-Collaborative Effort for Evaluationg Regionally Based Feedstock and Co-Products for Aquaculture and Livestock

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The goal of this agreement is to carry out a collaborative research effort among PBARC, The College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH), and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) that addresses important agriculture problems in Hawaii. The specific problem to address is determined through consultation and agreement among the agriculture college deans of CAFNRM and CTAHR and the director of PBARC. The main objective of this SCA is to evaluate the usefulness of regionally grown feedstock for aquaculture and livestock.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
In 2002, congress provided a set amount of funds to PBARC with the mandate that the funds should be split three ways among CAFNRM, CTAHR, and PBARC. The intent is to develop a mutually beneficial collaborative research effort that is formulated by the deans and the director of PBARC. The deans of CAFNRM and CTAHR, and the director of PBARC met and agreed to develop a research effort to evaluate the usefulness of regionally grown feedstock and co-products for aquaculture and livestock. Each institute would focus on research areas in which they have strengths and which would move the institutions closer to achieving the stated objective. To carryout the research plan, each dean will put out a call for proposals to their respective colleges for grant proposals to address the objective over a five year period. The proposals will be reviewed and selected by the deans and the director of PBARC, and any advisors that they may choose. To ensure that the research is focused on the objective and to assess progress, the investigators of the selected grants, the deans, and the director will meet annually to evaluate the work. Following the annual meeting, changes in the research personnel or focus may take place if needed. PBARC will have a research effort towards this objective but it will not have a call for proposals since the funds originally allocated to PBARC became part of their base budget. To maintain a degree of flexibility, the deans may use a small part of the funds to support other projects that may not be directly related to the main objective. These small projects may take no more than 49% of the total available for this SCA, must aid PBARC in meeting its mandated research objectives, must meet the requirements outlined in this Approach, must meet its internal milestones as described by the principal investigator(s) and must be developed as a partnership between a PBARC scientist and a CAFNRM scientist whenever possible although they can include scientists from other institutions or organizations for purposes of leveraging intellectual or fiduciary capital.


3.Progress Report

Studies on Mulatograss for feedstock and biomass sources confirmed linear regrowth during summer and autumn but very poor growth during winter even with nitrogen. A factorial experiment was conducted to evaluate adaptation of Ameristand’s 800 subtropical alfalfa cultivars to Hawaii. There was an interaction between soil pH and susceptibility of the cultivars to Phytophthora root rot disease under waterlogged soil. At soil pH 5.6 alfalfa regrowth was reduced by 50% by waterlogging depending on severity of the Phytophthora. Two weeks of waterlogging during regrowth resulted in the death of all cultivars at pH 5.6, but a soil pH 7.5 for non-waterlogged plants had good growth. Follow up work from published studies is also being conducted to evaluate the influence of soil hydraulic gradients and redox on micronutrient, phosphorus availability and toxic S concentration in wet pastures. Examination of oil palm as a biomass source continues with 6,400 3-year-old hybrid oil palm trees. Elevation effects are under study in plantings ranging from 150m to 500m above sea level. Soil types and eco-climates are being studied for impact on growth of this biomass source.

Sustainable mass production of earthworms and vermicomposts to support on-going experiments on the growth and yield of biomass and their efficacy in suppression of pests and diseases continues. Vermicomposts were tested as soil amendments by addition of 200 grams of vermicomposts (+ organic fertilizers) per plant yielding significantly larger plants compared to controls. Vermicompost supplemented biochar grew significantly more mass. Aqueous extracts (teas) from vermicomposts applied at rates up to 20 % increased growth of plants significantly. Germination of seeds and growth of seedlings increased at 1% application. Results were reported in symposia held at 5 different Universities and the Biocycle International Conference.

Sustainable technologies for greenhouse production of biomass could be important in rainy tropical environments. An irrigation system designed and built in a sustainable greenhouse has an option to use municipal or catchment water. A first crop consisting of different types of vegetables as biomass was planted with a pasteurized media mix. Plants with low levels of aphids and white fly were heat treated with hot water spray at 120° F developed previously. This sustainable method of pest management is an alternative to chemical treatment. Sustained periods of high temperature may have negative effects on yield, so a solar operated misting amd ventilation system was installed and operated during the warmest period of the day. A thermosiphon assisted experimental solar pasteurization unit aids to recycle used media.

Collaboration with private and public sectors has been developed to support honeybees important to biomass production. Presentations and a fair showcased honey products, demonstrations, and educational displays. A chapter on honey bees was published in “Specialty Crops for Pacific islands”, May 2011. A sustainable bee garden at the UH Hilo farm will provide education and research. Project monitored via meetings, telephone, and email communications.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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