Enhancing Ecological Disease Management on Guam Through Building Agriculture professionals' Understanding of Soil Nutrients

Final Report for EW08-018

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $49,962.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Western
State: Guam
Principal Investigator:
Roger Brown, Jr.
University of Guam
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Robert Schlub
University of Guam
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Project Information

Abstract:
Enhancing Guam’s agriculture professionals’ knowledge of ecological disease management through soil nutrients

Training was held to build agriculture professionals’ ability to detect plant nutrient imbalances and knowledge of soil nutrients in plant health and disease suppression. Instructional materials were derived from Guam soil and agriculture reports and data collected from fertilizer plots. The course included classroom, lab, and field instruction. Trainees learned how to detect plant nutrient levels using field test kits and symptomotology and how to best advise growers on soil nutrient management. At the conclusion of the course, trainees hosted a workshop for the general public at the test plots and a manual on soil fertility and nutrient management was published.

Project Objectives:

Phase 1: Course Development
1. Conduct a farmer survey
2. Establishment of plant nutrient data plots to develop data for instructional manual
3. Photograph plant symptoms
4. Assemble materials for training manual for use in year two
5. Advise National Institute of Health summer intern student on project (additional activity, not in original objectives).
6. Conduct half-day workshop for instructors and trainees (additional activity, not in original objectives).

Phase 2: Instruction
1. Install and maintain field day instructional plots
2. Finalize training manual
3. Classroom, lab, and field instruction
5. Development of field day program

Phase 3: Field Day and Evaluation
1. Field day
2. Follow-up farm survey
3. Follow-up review of agriculture professionals
4. Produce a publication from the training manual that is peer reviewed by agriculture and soil professionals.

Introduction:

The formal education of the majority of Guam’s agriculture professionals include the basics of agriculture, however without exposure to the finer nuances of plant nutrition. Ecological management of plant diseases through soil nutrition is an area of agriculture production that Guam’s agriculture professionals require addition training.

Studies on the relationship between plant nutrition and overall crop production are common and the majority of the studies concentrate on improving the management of 13 essential elements (Savant et al., 1997). These include six macro-elements (N, P, K, S, Ca, and Mg) and seven micro-elements (Fe, Mn, Zn, B, Mo, Cl and Cu). These elements are considered essential because deficiency in any one of them adversely affects physiological plant function, resulting in abnormal growth and/or an incomplete life cycle. Silicon (Si) is considered a plant nutrient “anomaly” because it is presumably not essential for plant growth and development. However, soluble Si has been shown to enhance the growth and development of several plant species including rice, sugarcane, most other cereals, and several dicotyledons such as cucumber, watermelon, and pumpkin. Some researchers are beginning to explore the important and possible essential role of Si in plant growth, function and health (Datnoff et. al., 2001). In native soils that are not limiting in available Si, plants absorb the element and their Si content may be of the same order of magnitude as that of the macronutrient elements such as calcium (Ca) or magnesium (Mn) (Epstein, 2001). The influences of Si on diseases reported in the Mariana Islands include corn stalk rot, cucumber powdery mildew and bacterial wilt of tomato. The region’s highly weathered oxisols (Young, 1988) would be expected to show the greatest benefit to added Si (Datnoff et al., 2007).

Historically, the relationship between nutritional deficiencies and crop health have been addressed by plant pathologists by identifying and studying them as “abiotic” or noninfectious disorders. When any of these micro- or macro- elements are present in the soil environment in amounts lower than the minimum levels required for normal plant growth, the plant becomes diseased and exhibits various external and internal symptoms (Agrios, 1997; Datnoff et al., 2007). The kinds of symptoms produced by the deficiency of a certain nutrient depend primarily on the functions of that particular element in the plant (Agrios, 1997). Because nutrients directly affect plant heath they also indirectly affect pathogen susceptibility. The reduced availability of nitrogen may increase the susceptibility of tomato to Fusarium wilt and many solanaceous plants to Ralstonia solanacearum. Sigatoka disease of banana increases in severity with increasing nitrogen fertilization.

An excess of soil nutrients can also be a problem. The excessive use of chemicals is a waste of a growers financial resources and increases the risk to the environment from farming. In the Eggplant, Pepper, and Tomato Production Guide for Guam it was reported that there were no differences in tomato yield when 60 lb N and 120 lb N/acres were used. In the same guide, cherry tomatoes in clay soil containing 75 ppm K2O, had the same growth response with 25 kg/ha as with 200 kg/ha level. Nutrient excess may also cause damages directly: high levels of available phosphorus may cause micronutrient deficiencies of Mg and Fe.

Guam farmers are aware of the benefits of applying nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, however, they are indifferent when it comes to adjusting fertilizer amounts for crops and soil conditions. Guam’s agriculture professionals advise farmers on a daily basis to address these indifferences but are making little headway. Nor have they been able to impress upon growers the importance of proper soil nutrition in disease suppression. Nearly all of Guam farmers currently use some form of inorganic fertilizers; however, in a 2001 farm survey 58% of the responders reported never having their soil tested (Schlub and Yudin eds., 2002). In this same survey, 24% of the farmers commonly use triple 16 irrespective of their crop. Guam Cooperative Extension currently has production guides for both cucurbit and solanaceous crops – Yudin and Schlub eds., 1998, Schlub and Yudin eds., 2002. However, the majority of the information centers only on N-P-K and plant nutrition and does not cover soil fertility, origin of soils, and ecological disease management through soil nutrients.

This project provided for an expansion of the nutrient sections of the current cooperative extensions crop productions into a 60 page publication on Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The training provided by this project improved agriculture professionals’ understanding of the role of soil nutrients in plant health and disease suppression and assisted them in passing this new knowledge to growers.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Alejandro Badilles
  • Jesse Bamba
  • Robert Bourgeios
  • Frank Cruz
  • Joe Cruz
  • Lawrence Duponcheel
  • Dr. Robert Gavenda
  • Mohammad Golabi
  • Clancy Iyekar
  • Cliff Kyota
  • Rick Lizama
  • James McConnell
  • Dr. Aubrey Moore
  • Dr. Dilip Nandwani
  • Aaron Palmateer
  • Dr. Craig Smith
  • Joe Takai
  • Sam Taylor
  • Joe Tuquero
  • Phoebe Wall

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Phase 1:

1. Farm Survey

Twelve farmers representing a cross section of the farming community of Guam participated in a 2010 phone survey. The objective of the survey was to determine their current soil fertility and fertilizer practices and level of knowledge about their farm’s soil. All the responders reported using either chemical or organic fertilizers. No farmer reported using only organic fertilizers. Fifty percent of the farmers reported using only chemical fertilizers while fifty percent used both chemical and organic fertilizers. No farmers who participated in the survey could recall their soil’s percentage of organic matter, cation exchange capacity, or ppm of potassium and phosphorus. However, 25 percent of total farmers said they have a record of it, somewhere. See figure 1 for a graphical representation of the survey.

2. Establishment of plant nutrient data plots for data collection and evaluation of instruments and test kits

Post Doctoral plant pathologist Dr. Zelalem Mersha was hired to work on the PDP project. Dr. Mersha traveled to Florida and met with co-project coordinator Dr. Aaron Palmateer and research associate Brenda Rutherford. There he received training in silicon digestion tissue analysis and silicon crop trial design. Dr. Mersha arrived on Guam for the first time on September 15th, and began setting up his office and laboratory.

Materials and supplies were purchased for the development of plant nutrient data plots to develop data for the instructional manual. The materials and supplies include seed, seedling trays, pots, fertilizers, silicon, gardening tools, and drip irrigation equipment including drip lines, poly-hose, connectors, solenoid valves, tensiometers, and a controller. Also, field test equipment for analyzing soil nutrients and plant tissue were ordered or borrowed from other labs at the University of Guam including a soil salinity meter, pH meter, a YSI9500 photometer soil and plant nutrient analyzer, cardy (nutrient) meters, a brix meter, and a chlorophyll meter. These instruments were later used on the nutrient plots to collect data and were introduced to the grant participants during the one day introductory workshop. These instruments and kits were discussed in the training manual (see appendix A1 for more information on instruments and test kits).

A field was prepped for planting of the plant nutrient data plots at the Yigo Agriculture Experiment Station. Three locally popular solanceous plants and one locally popular cucurbit plant were chosen. The solanaceous crops chosen for planting were tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Season Red), eggplant (Solanum melongena cv. Pingtung Long), and hot pepper (Capsicum annum cv. Ascent), while the cucurbit plant chosen was cucumber (cucumis melo cv. Joy). Seedlings were grown in a greenhouse and transplanted to the field in rows (Picture 1). Each row consisted of 4 plots containing five plants per plot. In each row the first plot was pepper, followed by eggplant, tomato and cucumber. There were five different rows/treatments: NPK at recommended amounts; NPK at recommended amounts plus micronutrients; N deficiency; P deficiency; and K deficiency. Recommended fertilizer rates used for NPK came from the “Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Guide for Guam,” (Schlub and Yudin, 2002) and the “Guam Cucurbit Guide” (Yudin and Schlub, 1998). Deficiency rates were at 25 percent of the recommended rate. In addition to the nutrient test plots/rows, two rows of cucumber were planted. These rows consisted of two treatments with four replications. Treatment one was fertilized at recommended rates, while treatment two was fertilized at recommended rates and amended with silicon (Figure 2). See Appendix 1a for more information on plots, plants, and fertilizer rates.

Data taken before, during, and after the growing period of the test plots included soil nutrients, plant weight, leaf count, soil pH, soil salinity, plant nutrients (Table 1 and 2), fruit sugar, chlorophyll readings (Figure 3), plant height and leaf count (Figure 4), and yield (Figure 5). Instruments and test kits used to analyze the parameters included a soil salinity meter, pH meter, a YSI9500 photometer soil and plant nutrient analyzer, two cardy (nutrient) meters, a chlorophyll meter, a brix meter, an electronic weighing balance, and a tape measure. The data collected as well as the instruments and test kits used in the first year was used again as part of the second year’s professional training. Also, much of the information was included in the training manual. See appendix A1 for more information on instruments, test kit procedures, graphs and tables.

3. Plot and plant photographs

Digital photographs of plants in test plots were taken weekly after transplanting through harvest. Fruit and detached leaf pictures were taken during and after harvest. Many of the photos
were used in the training during year two. Examples of these photographs can be seen below (Picture 2).

4. Assembled materials for training manual

The training manual for the second instructional course was begun. This training manual eventually became the final product for this grant, a publication guide for Guam’s agriculture and soil professionals on Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management. Copies of this publication will be included in this final report.

5. Advise National Institute of Health summer intern student on project (additional activity, not in original objectives)

Project coordinator Dr. Robert Schlub agreed to become a mentor for the National Institute of Health “Step-up” program. Intern Ms. Katrinalynne Nance, a recent graduate from Guam John F. Kennedy High School, was assigned to Dr. Schlub. Dr. Schlub assigned her a project to enhance the grant and for her to gain experience in experimental design, field data collection, and laboratory analysis. Ms. Nance’s project consisted of growing tomato plants in pots with varying levels of soil nutrients. She presented her results at the NIH Step-up conference in Bethesda, Maryland on August 15 via an oral presentation and a static poster (Appendix 1b). Using a 20-point scale, conference participants were evaluated on oral presentation, poster presentation, and verbal communication skills. Ms. Nance received marks of 19, 18, and 20 respectively.

6. Half-day workshop for instructors and trainees (additional activity, not in original objectives)

A half-day introductory workshop was held the test plot location with both participant trainers and trainees in attendance. Although not planned for in the original proposal, the purpose of the workshop was to: introduce participants to each other; discuss instrumentation and test kits; allow the participants to visit the test plots and make observations; and to prepare the participants for training in year two. (Pictures 3 and 4).

Phase 2:

1. Install and maintain field day instruction/demonstration plots

A field was prepped, planted and maintained for the soil nutrient instruction plots at the Yigo Agriculture Experiment Station. Three locally popular solanceous plants and one locally popular cucurbit plant were chosen. The solanaceous crops chosen for planting were tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Season Red), eggplant (Solanum melongena cv. Pingtung Long), and hot pepper (Capsicum annum cv. Ascent) while the cucurbit plant chosen was cucumber (cucumis melo cv. Joy). Seedlings were grown in a greenhouse and transplanted to the field in rows (Picture 1). Each row consisted of 4 plots containing five plants per plot. In each row the first plot was pepper, followed by eggplant, tomato and cucumber. There were five different rows/treatments: NPK at recommended amounts; NPK at recommended amounts plus micronutrients; N deficiency; P deficiency; and K deficiency. Recommended fertilizer rates used for NPK came from the “Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Guide for Guam,” (Schlub and Yudin, 2002) and the “Guam Cucurbit Guide” (Yudin and Schlub, 1998). Deficiency rates were at zero percent of the recommended rate.

Unlike the year one plots that were produced for data collection, the purpose of these plots were for the training of the agriculture professionals in soil fertility and nutrient management and for discussions with the general public on soil nutrients and plant nutrient deficiencies during the half day “field day.”

2. Finalize training manual

A training manual was finalized for instruction nutrient management. This manual, which all trainees received, contained data from the first year’s test plots, information and instruction on the use of field instrumentation and test kits, and research on soil nutrients and plant nutrition. This manual was the bases for the final product: a peer reviewed training manual publication. All trainees have now received the final publication.

3. Classroom instruction

Classroom instruction commenced over a full two day period on May 10th and 11th, 2010. The instructors were Dr. Robert L. Schlub, Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Guam;
Dr. Aaron Palmateer, Research Plant Pathologist,University of Florida; Dr. Mohammad Golabi, Research Soil Scientist, University of Guam; Dr. Jim McConnell, Research Horticulturalist,University of Guam, Dr. Aubrey Moore, Extension Entomologist, University of Guam;
Mr. Joe Cruz, former Extension Agent (Professor Emeritus), University of Guam; Mr. Frank Cruz (Retired), University of Guam; Dr. Robert Gavenda, Soil Scientist, USDA NRCS Guam.

Trainees who underwent instruction were Mr. Jesse Bamba, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Ms. Phoebe Wall, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Dr. Craig Smith, Agronomist, Mr. Clancy Iyekar, Soil Chemist, University of Guam; Mr. Rick Lizama, Agriculture Management Specialist, Guam Department of Agriculture; Mr. Roger Brown, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Mr. Robert Bourgeois, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Dr. Dilip Nandwani, Extension Plant Pathologist, College of Northern Marianas Islands – Saipan; Mr. Alejandro Badilles, Extension Agent, College of Northern Marianas Islands – Rota; Mr. Lawrence Duponcheel, Extension Agent, College of Northern Marianas Islands – Tinian; Mr. Joe Tuquero, Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS Guam; Mr. Sam Taylor, Soil Conservation Technician, USDA NRCS Guam; Mr. Joe Takai, Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS Guam.

Topics covered/presentations over the two day period included:

•Collecting and testing soil and plant tissue using field instrumentation/test kits – Mr. Clancy Iyekar and Mr. Roger Brown.
•Soils of the Mariana Islands – Dr. Robert Gavenda.
•Essential plant nutrients and fertility of Guam soils – Mr. Joe Cruz.
•AG340 Student Presentation- Mr. Ken San Nicholas, Ms. Ashley Randall, Mr. Jerome Perez.
•Data analysis from 2009 plots (tomato, pepper, eggplant, and cucumber) – Dr. Robert Schlub.
•Chemical fertilizers – Mr. Joe Cruz.
•Plant nutrition and plant disease – Dr. Aaron Palmateer.
•Adoption of state side recommendations for Guam – Dr. Aaron Palmateer.
•Visual diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies in plants – Dr. Robert Schlub.
•Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition training manual – Dr. Robert Schlub.
•Calculating soil and plant nutrient recommendations – Mr. Frank Cruz
•Nutrient levels for the islands and calculations – Mr. Frank Cruz
•How to take a soil sample and interpreting test results – Dr. Mohammad Golabi
(See Appendix 2a for the program agenda).

Instructors and trainees received certificates following the successful completion of instruction (Picture 5). An example can be seen in Appendix 2b. A pre-test and post-test were given before and after instruction (Appendix 2c).

4. Development of field day program
A field day program was developed for May 12, 2012 field day (the day following the two days of classroom instruction). The public was invited to attend the field day at the location of the project’s demonstration plots through an article in the local newspaper (Appendix 2d). The purpose of the field day was to have the trainees apply their knowledge gained from their two day classroom instruction.

Phase 3:

1. Field Day

Forty-two members of the general public including farmers and home gardeners attended the field day. Trainees tested soil and plant samples that were brought by the public with field test equipment (Picture 6). Trainees gave tours of the demonstration plots where the public could compare plants grown in soil with and without added nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and the trainees could answer questions on fertilizing, soil nutrients, and plant nutrition (Picture 7). The trainees also talked about best management practices for maintaining plant health in vegetable production as the demonstration plots were equipped with plastic mulch, weedmats, tensiometers, drip irrigation, and fertigation.

Instructors Dr. Robert Schlub, Dr. Aaron Palmeteer, and Mr. Frank Cruz evaluated the trainees during the course of the field day.

2. Follow-up farm survey

See Phase 3 Outputs and Impacts.

3. Follow-up review of agriculture professionals

See Phase 3 Outputs and Impacts.

4. Produce a publication from the training manual that is peer reviewed by agriculture and soil professionals

The purpose of this project was to build agriculture professionals’ understanding of the role of soil nutrients in plant health and disease suppression through hand on experiences and to development of educational materials. The guide covered the relationship between plant nutrition and overall crop production on Guam for 13 essential elements as well as silicon in both conventional and organic farming systems. Of all the mainland US agriculture areas, Florida has the most in common with Guam with respect to climate, crops, diseases, and soils. Dr. Palmateer and Yuncong Li from the University of Florida provided insight into crop production in Florida’s calcareous soil. It took an additional year after the workshop in 2010 to incorporate material and suggestions into the final manual / book: Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

With the departure of the grant’s postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Zelalem Mersha, the final manual was left in the hands of Dr. Schlub. In the process making the final edits to the book, Dr. Schlub identified weaknesses in some of the literature on soil fertility and nutrient management that was currently in use at the University of Guam. To rectify these shortcomings, he took considerable time and relied heavy on the expertise of Dr. Robert Gavenda of NRCS, Guam. Since the subject of soil fertility and nutrient management had never been compiled for Guam or the Mariana Island, the final documents had to be drawn from hundreds of pages of supporting soil and plant documents written or edited by a number of individuals: J.T. Cope, Fred Young, J.L. Demeterio, L.E. Datnoff, W.H. Elmer, and D. Huber, R.J. Joy, T.E. Marler, R. dela Cruz,, A.L. Blas, M. Marutani, P.P. Motavalli, J.A. Cruz, R.Y. Marasigan, Dean W. Burkett, Terry L. Huff and others. Additional time and effect was required to obtain the original photographs of Guam soil series taken in 1988.

Outreach and Publications

Publications:

Schlub, R.L. 2011. Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Guam Cooperative Extension Service Publication. 60p.

Z. Mersha, R. W. Brown, R. L. Schlub. 2010. Enhancing Guam’s agriculture professionals’ knowledge of ecological disease management. Poster and abstract in proceedings of 2010 APS annual meeting Charlotte, North Carolina: Phytopathology 100:S82

Education and Outreach:

1. Classroom instruction on ecological disease management through soil nutrients

for trainees commenced over a full two day period on May 10th and 11th, 2010. The instructors were Dr. Robert L. Schlub, Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Guam; Dr. Aaron Palmateer, Research Plant Pathologist,University of Florida; Dr. Mohammad Golabi, Research Soil Scientist, University of Guam; Dr. Jim McConnell, Research Horticulturalist,University of Guam, Dr. Aubrey Moore, Extension Entomologist, University of Guam; Mr. Joe Cruz, former Extension Agent (Professor Emeritus), University of Guam; Mr. Frank Cruz (Retired), University of Guam; Dr. Robert Gavenda, Soil Scientist, USDA NRCS Guam.

Trainees who underwent instruction were Mr. Jesse Bamba, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Ms. Phoebe Wall, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Dr. Craig Smith, Agronomist, Mr. Clancy Iyekar, Soil Chemist, University of Guam; Mr. Rick Lizama, Agriculture Management Specialist, Guam Department of Agriculture; Mr. Roger Brown, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Mr. Robert Bourgeois, Extension Associate, University of Guam; Dr. Dilip Nandwani, Extension Plant Pathologist, College of Northern Marianas Islands – Saipan; Mr. Alejandro Badilles, Extension Agent, College of Northern Marianas Islands – Rota; Mr. Lawrence Duponcheel, Extension Agent, College of Northern Marianas Islands – Tinian; Mr. Joe Tuquero, Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS Guam; Mr. Sam Taylor, Soil Conservation Technician, USDA NRCS Guam; Mr. Joe Takai, Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS Guam.

Topics covered/presentations over the two day period included:

•Collecting and testing soil and plant tissue using field instrumentation/test kits – Mr. Clancy Iyekar and Mr. Roger Brown.
•Soils of the Mariana Islands – Dr. Robert Gavenda.
•Essential plant nutrients and fertility of Guam soils – Mr. Joe Cruz.
•AG340 Student Presentation- Mr. Ken San Nicholas, Ms. Ashley Randall, Mr. Jerome Perez.
•Data analysis from 2009 plots (tomato, pepper, eggplant, and cucumber) – Dr. Robert Schlub.
•Chemical fertilizers – Mr. Joe Cruz.
•Plant nutrition and plant disease – Dr. Aaron Palmateer.
•Adoption of state side recommendations for Guam – Dr. Aaron Palmateer.
•Visual diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies in plants – Dr. Robert Schlub.
•Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition training manual – Dr. Robert Schlub.
•Calculating soil and plant nutrient recommendations – Mr. Frank Cruz
•Nutrient levels for the islands and calculations – Mr. Frank Cruz
•How to take a soil sample and interpreting test results – Dr. Mohammad Golabi

2. Field day – Forty-two members of the general public including farmers and home gardeners attended a field day conducted by project trainees. Trainees tested soil and plant samples that were brought by the public with field test equipment. Trainees gave tours of the demonstration plots where the public could compare plants grown in soil with and without added nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and the trainees could answer questions on fertilizing, soil nutrients, and plant nutrition. Also, the trainees talked about best management practices for maintaining plant health in vegetable production as the demonstration plots were equipped with plastic mulch, weedmats, tensiometers, drip irrigation, and fertigation. Course instructors on hand for the field day were Dr. Robert Schlub, Dr. Aaron Palmeteer, and Mr. Frank Cruz.

3. Web site for final product – the main publication for this grant, Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands was place on a website at http://www.uog.edu/admin/assetmanager/images/cnas%20anr/resoil%20fertility%20%20nutrient%20management%202012.pdf

Outcomes and impacts:

Phase 1:

Post Doctoral plant pathologist Dr. Zelalem Mersha received training in silicon digestion tissue analysis and silicon crop trial design at the University of Florida. Dr. Mersha worked with the Soil Laboratory chemist at the University of Guam to implement standardized silicon tissue and soil analysis procedures so that Guam’s agricultural professionals and farmers could have silicon from soil and plant samples analyzed. This was previously not available on Guam. Also, this information was included in the second year training manual on the use of silicon for disease suppression in vegetable crops. The use of silicon to suppress disease is an additional pest management strategy that can be passed on to the growers through Guam’s agriculture professionals.

Knowledge and skills were gained by Dr. Zelalem Mersha and technicians Roger Brown, David Mantanona, and Glenn Alianza in the use and evaluation of field test equipment on the nutrient test plots. The workshop participants who attended the half-day workshop gained knowledge and skills in this area also. Further training in the use of this test equipment was conducted in the second year training.

The National Institute of Health summer intern gained knowledge and skills in planting, experimental design, digital photography, use of fertilizers, and reporting experimental outcomes through the development and presentation of a poster. Some of her work on this project was included in the training manual that was developed in the second year of this grant.

The Farmer Survey conducted during Phase 1 gave instructors and trainee’s insight into Guam farmer’s knowledge and farming methods.

Phase 2:

Trainees were given a pre-test prior to instruction and a post-test (the same test) following instruction for measuring knowledge based outcome (Appendix 2c). The average score on the pre-test was sixty-two percent, while the average score on the post-test was 80 percent. Two trainees did not pass the 70 percent threshold for passing. However, the test was only fifty percent of the final grade, with the applied knowledge (field day evaluation of trainees) comprising the other 50 percent. Counting the field day evaluation the trainee’s average score was 87 percent with a low score of 78 percent and a high score of 98 percent. All trainees passed the course.

Phase 3:

Field Day: Trainees were evaluated by project instructors Dr. Robert Schlub, Dr. Aaron Palmeteer, and Mr. Frank Cruz during the field day on how they applied the knowledge gained during classroom and lab instruction. Trainees gave tours of the demonstration plots for small groups and individuals who showed up to the field day throughout the morning. All trainees were able to describe the various effects of plants grown in soil with and without added nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients with minimal or zero inaccuracies. Trainees also answered questions on fertilizing, soil nutrients, and plant nutrition with minimal or zero inaccuracies. The instructors felt confident that all the professionals (trainees) would be able to impart the knowledge gained to their clients and to the general public. The average grade given to the trainees for the application of knowledge was 95 percent.

Follow-up farm survey: To provide feed-back on the effectiveness of the program to induce change, agriculture field agents Jesse Bamba and Phoebe Wall attended monthly meetings of the Guam’s soil conservation districts to fielded questions on soil fertility and nutrient management by local farmers. They have reported back to the PI that their farm clients are now better equipped at determining the nutrient requires of their crops on their individual soils.

Follow-up review of agriculture professionals: Agriculture field agents Jesse Bamba and Phoebe Wall have reported back to the PI that they are more effective in relaying soil fertilizer and soil management recommendations to clients as a result of the training and are able to apply the training to a variety of soil related agriculture topics. Parts of the manual are now being use in soil related agriculture courses at the University of Guam.

Impact of final product / manual: The impact of the manual was direct for the participants and indirect for others. The participants gained in knowledge of soil fertility and nutrient management, improved their ability in working with and interpreting nutrient testing equipment, and increased their decision-making skills to better handle soil related questions from their constituents. Adoption and use of the instructional information by the participants has shown an active application of their gained knowledge. The newly trained agriculture professionals are now laying down the foundation with Guam’s farmers and homeowners necessary to eliminate the application of excesses of soil nutrients and the risk it imposes to Guam’s fragile island environment.

The manual’s main indirect impact is the knowledge gained by current and future agriculture professionals accessing the manual in print or on line at the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Guam: http://www.uog.edu/admin/assetmanager/images/cnas%20anr/resoil%20fertility%20%20nutrient%20management%202012.pdf

There are efforts underway by Dr. Robert Gavenda to linked the manual’s site to Pacific Islands area of NRCS. He and others feel the information on Guam volcanic soils is basically valid for Palau and there’s a lot of general background information in the guide that applies anywhere. Parts of the guide have been used in presentations my Dr. Gavenda throughout the Pacific region (Hawaii, Northern Marianas, Palau, and Yap. Hard copies and CD’s of the manual have been distributed as well.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Accomplishments of this project include improved dissemination of information relevant to the region on soil fertility and plant nutrient management and incorporation of demonstration plots as a training resource. Trainees received classroom instruction in soil fertility and nutrient management as well as field and equipment instructions in detection of nutrient deficiencies.

Plant nutrient plots containing eggplant, pepper, tomato, and cucumber were grown with low and normal fertilizer levels during years one and two in order to collect data for the classroom manual and field instruction. The planning of plots for field instruction provided an educational tool that was hands-on and current. At the conclusion, trainees hosted a workshop for the general public at the plots and a manual on soil fertility and nutrient management was published. As a result of this project, agricultural professionals and university student in the Mariana Islands now have a soil science resource that covers soil fertility and nutrient management topics relevant to the region. This book pulled information from territorial soil surveys, regional NRCS publications, University of Guam research and extension publications, as well as personal communications.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Potential Contributions of this project include new knowledge gained by agricultural professionals in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the forging of new partnerships with land grant universities on the mainland. With the training from this project and the availability of a regional soil fertility and nutrient management manual at their disposal, agriculture professionals are better equipped to inform producers on soil related management practices which will improve crop production while protecting the environment. The conventional technology outlined in the project manual which advocates the use of organic and inorganic fertilizer in accordance to soil characteristics and crop requirements will likely become the corner stone to high quality fruits and good yield levels for years to come.

Future Recommendations

This project was successful in that the purpose of our training program and resulting training manual was to bring together the role of soil fertility and nutrient management in plant health and disease suppression as they relate to Guam and the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). The project emphasized the connection between crop production practices (irrigation, fertigation, crop selection) to inputs (nutrients, moisture, etc) as the key to maximizing production. However, too few of our growers have the necessary infrastructure to implement such practices.

It is believed that in the future, training should empower agriculture professionals to select crops for farm sites based on available of production inputs, level of experience / knowledge of the grower, as well as crop soil moisture and nutrient requirements. Though cucumber, eggplant, tomato, and hot pepper all have similar soil and nutrient requirements, their ability to tolerate less than ideal conditions vary considerable. For example from field observations and yield values taken on crops of eggplant, tomato, hot pepper, and cucumbers at the UOG Yigo Agriculture Research Station in 2008 and 2009 it was concluded that reductions in N, P, or K inputs was tolerated least in cucumber, followed by eggplant, tomato, and hot pepper. Even when no additional inputs of N, P, or K were added to the soil, hot peppers yield was still at 50% maximum, whereas the cucumber yielded nearly nothing under such conditions. Based on this and other information, cucumbers production should not be recommended to those growers that lack the expertise and resources necessary to produce such a demanding crop as cucumber but should be advised to grow a more tolerant crop such as tomato or hot pepper.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.