Photo courtesy of The Age Cases
Photo courtesy of The Age Cases

HONOLULU, HAWAII — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that $225,875 is being awarded to four entities through the Conservation Innovation Grant.

“We are pleased to provide this federal funding to help these innovative projects to help our farming community,” said Mr. Angel Figueroa, NRCS Director of the Pacific Islands Area.  “These new techniques can be adapted by others.”

The Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council was awarded funds to conduct landowner workshops to promote land stewardship and Farm Bill programs.  Five workshops will be conducted, reaching approximately 150 total people and  informational packets will be produced, with general fact sheets and program information tailored to each county.    An informational article will be published in at least one local paper.  Maps showing geographic payment rates, important agricultural lands, and other criteria-based information will be produced.  All resource materials, and electronic audio-visual files will be uploaded onto the Oahu RC&D’s website (www.oahurcd.org).

Hawaii Agriculture Research Center was awarded funds towards the reclamation of abandoned agricultural land.  This project’s primary purpose is to further the development of high value, specialty agroforestry crop systems in Hawaii and the Pacific.  The project will further this goal through the implementation, evaluation and monitoring of ecologically stable, agroforestry systems on abandoned agricultural lands.  The successful completion of the project will serve to demonstrate a novel land-use system that improves local economies and environments.  The project will serve to synthesize several proven technologies developed by the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center and the University of Hawaii in order to demonstrate efficient methods to reclaim abandoned agricultural land and establish a specialty agro-forestry system to combine sustainability with profitability.

Whispering Winds Bamboo Cooperative Corporation was awarded funds to convert bamboo timber waste to bio-char using a farm-scale Adams retort kiln.  The biochar product is used as a soil amendment to improve soil structure and nutrient holding capability while providing for long term soil fertility.  This project will prove that installing appropriately sized farm based charcoal kilns can be cost effective, income generating and fertility enhancing to a farm operation. Total sequestered carbon will also be calculated to show how much carbon footprint offset was made by the adopted technology during the project term.

University of Guam was awarded funds to integrate pheromones and the fungal entomopathogens for the control of the sweetpotato weevil.  This program is to develop, demonstrate and facilitate the adoption of farm pest management practices in sweetpotato that will enable growers to transition away from the use of high-risk pesticides in Guam and other Pacific Islands.

To learn more about the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs available through the Farm Bill, please visit www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov.

Submitted by Jolene Lau, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

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