A free evening presentation at UH-Hilo by agroforestry consultant, Dave Sansone
Date: Friday, September 19th, 2014
Time: 7 pm
Location: UH-Hilo, University Classroom Building (UCB), Room 100
Sponsored by: UH-Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM)
and Agroforestry Design, LLC
Rampant weeds, acidic soil, nutrient leaching (loss) from heavy rain, erosion and deforestation are some the issues that Hilo and Hāmākua farmers and gardeners face. Dave Sansone, agroforestry consultant and owner of Agroforestry Design.net, will be offering a free slideshow presentation called “Agroforestry Solutions for Hilo and Hāmākua Districts”, on Friday, September 19th at 7pm at UH-Hilo, UCB Room 100. Uncommon and rare plant prizes will be given away.
Hilo and Hāmākua Districts have a diversity of growing conditions including various soil types, elevations, rainfall patterns and totals; yet there are a number agroforestry practices that can be adapted to help farmers and gardeners overcome each area’s challenges and limitations. “Agroforestry, is the targeted integration of agriculture and forestry crops and practices, and can be used to win the war on weeds, increase fertility and production, improve soil quality and plant health, recycle nutrients, trap erosion, and reduce reliance on outside inputs”, says Sansone.
One of the most common challenges are the many weeds that never seem to take a break, especially in the warm high humidity and rainfall areas. A number of the more noxious weeds such as wainaku or hono hono will grow if they are dropped on the ground. No spray farms and gardens usually struggle in these conditions and often resort to mowing, weed whacking, or importing mulch to keep weeds down.
Rather than fighting a never ending battle against the weeds, agroforestry can empower people to “succeed the weeds”
by planting a mix of fast growing food plants, nitrogen fixing tree and shrub (NFTS) hedgerows that eliminate weeds, especially through shading and mulch created by severely pruning hedgerows. This system has been shown to reduce leaching, recycle nutrients, and increase available fertility and organic matter.
Well-designed rapid growing acid tolerant polycultures such as cow pea or other vigorous legumes, cassava, pigeon pea (aka Gandudi bean or Cajan Cajanus), and banana can quickly shade and mulch out low growing weed seedlings while NFTS hedgerows become established. This can offer early, reliable production with minimal inputs or effort after established.
Occasional alleys can utilize strategic companion planting of grains, beans, roots, shrubs, crop trees, and overstory trees in intercrop rows between the NFTS hedgerows. Shade loving and tolerant plants can be added later including cardamom or maile. This model offers increasing production while reducing effort and inputs along with biological weed control while reducing the amount of land needed to grow vegetables and tree crops. Slow growing spice and exotic fruit crops command high prices due to the time it takes to reach maturity, but farmers who integrate them into diverse farms can adapt operations to have continuous production while the high value trees grow.
Acidic soil due to leaching of calcium, sodium and magnesium by heavy rain is a more complex issue. While agricultural lime can raise the pH, it is a short term solution that is largely dependent on outside inputs. It seems that acidic soils have been a major limiting factor here for thousands of years. To learn more about new and traditional agroforestry solutions to
overcome acid soils and other challenges that Hilo and Hāmākua farmers and gardeners face, attend “Agroforestry Solutions for Hilo and Hāmākua Districts”.
More information is available at www.agroforestrydesign.net