Water Hyacinth Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2012: $8,687.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Larry Ward
Ward Farms

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: irrigation, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    The Water Hyacinth Project will explore the value of the water hyacinth as a livestock nutrition source and water cleansing device. The plant will be introduced and analyzed in an area that experiences an overabundance of nitrogen due to fertilizer runoff. The Northeast's climate makes it suitable for water hyacinth growth as the plant's invasive characteristics cannot take hold. Results will be distributed at the 2012 UMES Small Farm Conference

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We are seeking to find out the quantity and nutritional value of the water hyacinth grown in a specifically sized ditch for easy scalability/replication purposes.

    To determine nutritional value, we will take two samples of each (equally spaced) harvest (for a total of 10 samples over 5 harvests) to the lab for a nutritional breakdown. These samples will be of one bushel of hyacinth run through an industrial chopper so that we have an average of the harvested plants for analysis. These tests will be used to determine nutritional values at various points in the growing season. The nutrition values found in the referenced article in section 2 of this proposal leads us to believe that this will be suitable for sheep and goats. If we find that it is not based on our tests, the harvested hyacinth will be used as compost instead.

    To determine quantity grown, we will quantify all 5 harvests of water hyacinth by the bushel after ditch extraction. Each extraction will contain at least 1 bushel of water hyacinth. Beyond that initial test bushel, the pond will be harvested enough to reduce the total surface coverage of hyacinth to about 33% of water surface area. This will allow the hyacinth to reproduce without overpopulating the ditch area. The quantity harvested at each interval will be recorded and the final harvest will remove any and all remaining water hyacinth from the water.

    Samples of the ditch water itself will also be taken from the growing area for analysis. These samples will serve as reference for other farmers who wish to replicate this project in the future. This analysis will accompany the nutritional and quantity data so that the next farmer can compare their results to ours more directly. If a farmer’s water supply test results are similar to ours at the beginning of the test period, then we expect for them to have similar results through the duration of the test assuming similar climate conditions apply. If they do not, we expect some variation in their results

    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.