Increasing Sustainable Agricultural Production in High Polynesian Islands

Final Report for FW02-040

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2002: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Ivona Ballard
Whutnutsamoa
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Project Information

Abstract:

SUMMARY
The project was established with portable pigpens producing mulch and compost for a raised-bed vegetable planting system, which included eggplant, red lettuce, cucumbers, beans and sweet basil. One pig was raised in a dry litter moveable pen system. Initially, a 10-foot by 12-foot portable piggery, raising one pig, was moved after six months. After allowing the area to dry for two to three months, the vegetable crops were planted in 2-foot by 50-foot beds raised 3 feet to protect against flooding. No other plant nutrition was applied to the soil. Crops were harvested and sold in restaurants and roadside markets. As of the project’s final report, a 60-foot by 60-foot plot had been developed for growing vegetables.

OBJECTIVES
To demonstrate sustainable, intensive farming of fresh organic market produce by using pig waste composted under a dry litter waste management system.

RESULTS
For four years, the project has been successfully growing a variety of vegetables using no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The compost using the manure from the portable piggery dry litter system has been sufficient to provide for the nutritional requirement for the sustainable production of the vegetable crops.

BENEFITS AND IMPACTS ON AGRICULTURE
The family benefited from being able to eat fresh vegetables through the duration of the project. Though the area developed was too low and prone to flooding, the 3-foot raised bed proved to be a remedy.

A more important benefit was a demonstration of alternative waste management practices for the swine industry in American Samoa. Since 2003, 13 people have been diagnosed with having leptospirosis, and four of those have died. This alternative method of treating waste and making it a usable product shows that there can be a solution to such problems.

PRODUCER ADOPTION
Making compost with pig manure using the dry litter system and a portable piggery system has been a successful venture. Some small piggery owners with two or three pigs have adopted the portable piggery system to grow various crops including some vegetables and taro, a Samoan staple.

Larger piggery owners would have a greater waste management problem, having greater quantities of pig waste to move and combine with organic matter, then having to move that product to the fields where it can be used. Also, renovating their traditional pig pens into dry litter systems would require a considerable investment.

REACTIONS FROM PRODUCERS
Large piggery operators have yet to adopt this system, mostly because of the substantial monetary investment required to covert their operations to the dry litter system.

Samoan farmers have always been sustainable organic crop producers. Because pigs are important to the culture, few farmers routinely market their animals for cash. As a result, few want to invest heavily in their operations.

FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
• Farmers with three pigs or fewer could employ this system to grow fresh vegetables for their own consumption.
• Those who adopt this system need to develop a composting and pen rotation plan that fits their time schedules.
• Keep the system on a small scale.

DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service brings growers to look at the dry litter system at least six times a year. The American Samoa Community College’s College of Natural Resources brings its agricultural students to view the system each year as part of its course.

The project also produced an animal waste management poster.

Research

Participation Summary
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.