- Agronomic: mint
- Crop Production: intercropping, no-till
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Pest Management: mulches - living
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities
Pest control in vegetable crop is a challenge in tropical climate such as Hawaii. Plastic mulches are often used but it is bad for the environment and difficult to remove. Living mulches provide a reasonable alternative. Mint, a living mulch interplanting with a vegetable crop, provides a high
return. In addition, mint reduces soil erosion, retains moisture, and if left to flower acts as an insectary. This farmer research grant is geared to assist farmers in understanding the benefits of a mint living mulch and making decisions on water and fertilizer inputs needed for the successful adoption of mint living mulch in their vegetable production. Eggplant (Solanum melongena) serves as the vegetable crop. Demonstration plots compared and contrasted eggplant grown with and without a living mint mulch. Three irrigation levels were also demonstrated. In general, eggplant yield was reduced when grown with mint. A black plastic mulch resulted in greater eggplant yield measured in pounds of fruit. Irrigation level had little effect because rainfall was sufficient, consequently, the high level of irrigation (1-acre-inch per week) was unneeded for the eggplant. The mint grew much better with the higher irrigation level. Soil quality, as measured by nematode community analysis, was good in the plots regardless of the ground cover. Plant-parasitic nematode populations were low. The profitability of mint living mulch has not yet been accounted for using partial budgeting because food safety protocol costs were not included in the original budget. The sustainability of the mint living mulch vegetable cropping systems was promoted through workshops and site visits by county agents. During farm workshops, both virtual and in-person, attendees learned about mint living mulch benefits. Evaluation and feedback from the attendees demonstrated interest in mint and conceptualization that mint may be better viewed as the cash crop with eggplant providing supplemental income to the mint crop.
This farmer research grant is geared to assist farmers in understanding the benefits of a mint living mulch and making decisions on water and fertilizer inputs needed for successful adoption of mint living mulch in their vegetable production. The specific objectives of this proposal are
(1) to determine optimal irrigation and fertilizer for a mint living mulch vegetable
(2) document pest and disease pressure in a mint living mulch vegetable cropping systems, and
(3) demonstrate and promote the merits of the mint living mulch vegetable cropping system.
Objectives 1 and 2 were achieved as they have been demonstrated at the small experimental plots at the University of Hawaii experiment station. The project was scaled to a 2/3 acre with irrigation, a manageable size for a small farm vegetable intensification production approach. On-farm field demonstration days and workshops ensured interested farmers attend and were able to observe the eggplant-mint cropping system.