Integrating Existing Crop and Livestock Enterprises on a Native Hawaiian Homestead Farm

Final Report for FW09-004

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $12,580.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Co-Investigators:
Alton Arakaki
UH-College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Cooperative Extension Service
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Project Information

Abstract:

Land clearing is a costly activity for small family farms. By learning to integrate goats with crop farm enterprises, farmers can reduce their cost of land clearing.

The project successfully demonstrated that goats can be used for land clearing, followed with crop production. During the final period of the project watermelon, eggplant and papaya were produced on land that was cleared by fenced goats instead of using farm tractor and their implements. With the production and marketing of the vegetable crop the project objective was successfully accomplished.

The goats are excellent browser and grazers and can remove bunch and broadleaf grasses, brush and woody plants effectively. Planting area was cleared well enough for planting crops. In 2011, the project focused on growing crops on land cleared by goats. A field day was held to share the progress of the project.

Introduction

Many small producers depend on hiring tractor services to open or clear land for crop production. With increasing fuel prices, the prices for hired services are increasing. It is not unusual for the cost of land clearing to exceed $750 per acre, depending on the type of vegetation cover.

Many small family farms have more than one enterprise that they depend on to contribute to their family’s economic security. They grow multiple crops to capture the benefits that come with both being biologically and economically diversified. It is common to see farms growing different fruits and vegetables together in same plots. By growing variety of crops, they can offer their market a variety of plant products, especially if they participate in CSAs and farmer’s market outlets. However when farmer’s crop diversity is made up of plant and livestock, they are usually operated as separate operations and usually not as well integrated.

The goal of the project is to reduce the dependence of petroleum farm input by integrating the livestock and crop enterprises into one operation, each benefiting the other. The strategy is to utilize the behavior and characteristic of goats to clean up harvested and fallowed fields, instead of using tractors, then to follow land clearing activities with crop production.

Project Objectives:

1. Plan and design integrated crop and livestock system.
Performance Target: Completed plan and design- Month 1

2. Develop record keeping book for the project.
Performance Target: Completed format for record log-Month 1

3. Purchase project supplies and materials.
Performance Target: Completed supply purchase-Month 2

4. Install portable and moveable livestock fences in crop field
Performance Target: Completed installing portable fence-Months 3-4

5. Implement and maintain crop/livestock rotation system.
Performance Target: Completed crop/livestock rotation system- Months 5-24

6. Maintain record book for the project.
Performance Target: Completed maintaining project log-Months 5-24

7. Review project record book.
Performance Target: Completed reviewing record book-Annually

8. Conduct field day.
Performance Target: Completed field days – Months 12-24

9. Compile information from record book and complete project reports.
Performance Target: Completed compiling information- Month 24

10. Develop publication on the project from project record book and report and mail to clientele and agencies.
Performance Targets: Completed project information for clientele

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Alton Arakaki

Research

Materials and methods:

1. Find eight acres of fallowed native Hawaiian Homestead land covered with grass, brush and woody plants for the project site that has potential for crop production.

2. Construct enclosure for goats on the project site. Use 12 pieces of portable 36” electric net fence.

3. Construct rectangle outside fence 164 feet wide and 492 feet long, fencing a total of 1.7 acres. Eight pieces of 164 feet long portable net fence will be need for outside fence.

4. Construct five equal-size paddocks using cross fencing inside the outside fence. Use four 164 feet pieces of portable net fencing for cross fencing. Each paddock will 98.4 ft. wide and 164 ft. long with area of .348 acres. Total of 12 pieces of portable electric net fence will be required.

5. Collect forage sample and estimate available feed in paddocks for goats.

6. Place 12 goats from the goat farm enterprise in paddock and monitor available forage.

7. Rotate goat herd when forage is depleted.

8. Move portable enclosure on new fallowed field and repeat goat foraging/land clearing process.

9. Using a garden tiller to prepare ground of paddocks that has been cleared of vegetation by goats.

10. Integrate the fruits and vegetable enterprises by growing and marketing crops on one acre land that has been cleared by goats.

Research results and discussion:

Outcome

Goat enclosure using portable net fence was constructed on weedy fallowed land.

Impact

The enclosure design was efficient in managing goat herd and moving them from paddock to paddock as each land was cleared of vegetation by goats. A total of five acres were clear by goats in a nine month period.

At a rate of $450 to $500 for hiring a tractor service to clear and prepare land for crop production, the goats saved $2,250 to $2,500 in land preparation costs. The task of clearing land for crop production can take anywhere from six to eight hours, depending on the type of vegetative cover, using a 35-45 hp farm tractor. At the rate of diesel consumption of two to three gallons an hour, potentially 12 to 24 gallons of fuel can be saved for each acre. With fuel prices exceeding $5.00 a gallon on Moloka’i, potentially $60 to $120 an acre can be saved by using goats to clear land of vegetation.

Outcome

Project demonstration of fruits and vegetable production on land cleared by herd of goats has been conducted.

Impact

Leaf lettuce, long eggplant, taro, green beans, watermelon, edamame, papaya and banana crops were successfully produced on land cleared by the goat herd and marketed at the local Saturday farmer’s market in Kaunakakai, Moloka’i.

Outcome

Project progress field days were held in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to share information on the project for participants to see the progression of moving from goats to crop production.

Impact

Participants increased their knowledge on practices and technologies that allowed for integrating goat production with crop production. After the project field day, the technology introduced by the project (electric net fence) has been adopted in a free-range chicken operation and in deer crop protection strategy in a organic papaya operation.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

Technical Advisor, Alton Arakaki, complete a publication fact sheet, “Integrating Small Goat Herd Production with Fruits and Vegetable Production,” which presented information and data about the project and was shared with farmers and rancher.(attached)

Annual field days were held to share the sequential development phases of the project.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Most educational activities conducted by extension service, such as field days, workshops and demonstrations are focused on a single farming practice with crops or livestock. This was the first educational project on Moloka’i that utilized livestock and crops together in an integrated approach. Participants of the project field days got to experience the progress of the farm development, from conversion of fallowed land with heavy vegetative cover for goat production to land that successfully produced crops. The project introduced electric net fence to the island that has been adopted for crop protection from deer and enclosure for a free-range layer operation.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Most educational activities conducted by extension service, such as field days, workshops and demonstrations are focused on a single farming practice with crops or livestock. This was the first educational project on Moloka’i that utilized livestock and crops together in an integrated approach. Participants of the project field days got to experience the progress of the farm development, from conversion of fallowed land with heavy vegetative cover for goat production to land that successfully produced crops. The project introduced electric net fence to the island that has been adopted for crop protection from deer and enclosure for a free-range layer operation.

Future Recommendations

The project did not measure the impact of goat pelleted manure on the soil, especially the level of organic matter that was recycled back into the soil. The pellets were well distributed in the field and remained there until they were tilled into the soil. While fertilizer was required for growing crops after goats, the clayey soil of the project site seemed to remain looser after cropping. For future work study on the impact of goats on soil would be warranted.

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.