Agricultural productivity of Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics method in cropping specialty vegetables for limited resource grower in Manu’a.

Project Overview

FW19-352
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $17,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/01/2021
Grant Recipient: Mauna Lata Creative Farm
Region: Western
State: American Samoa
Principal Investigator:
Toni Leano
Mauna Lata Creative Farm

Commodities

  • Vegetables: cabbages, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces)

Practices

  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, food product quality/safety, greenhouses, nurseries, nutrient management, season extension types and construction, shade cloth, water management, water storage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop, youth education, outreach
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, feasibility study, market study, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: rain catchments, water management
  • Pest Management: cultivation, cultural control, prevention, sanitation, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: hydroponics, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting, nutrient mineralization
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, quality of life, sustainability measures, urban/rural integration

    Summary:

    Agricultural productivity of Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics method in cropping specialty vegetables for limited resource growers in Manu’a.

    ABSTRACT

    This project aims to research and quantify the key benefits of Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics system for a limited resource grower in Manu’a; The project took place on a small farm on the remote island of Ta’u-Manu’a, one of the five main islands and two coral atolls that make up the territory of American Samoa. The Manu’a islands have a high percentage of its population being of Native Samoan ancestry and the community continue to preserve their rural traditions and lifestyle. However, the quality of life and food security of the people are dependent on a steady import of processed foods, fruits and vegetables from the main island of Tutuila. Annual heavy rainfall in the region exposes plants to dense forest pests, disease, and competition to fast growing weeds.  Poor farming techniques, and limited resources on island are factors to significant losses, reduced production, and a stand-still of agricultural growth in the previous years.  The opportunity to implement this project will pilot a modern method of farming that will raise awareness of healthy lifestyles, developments in agriculture, and encourage sustainability in Manu’a communities. 

    Research will focus on the successful production of bok choy and lettuce varieties through Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics in a greenhouse environment, and how it can open up avenues that will allow the community to target methods of sustenance and sustainability.  Comparisons of various hydroponics methods implemented in American Samoa were evaluated to choose the best method that would work best.  Kratky’s method was researched and tested on the farm for a few months before the analysis of all the data, and production of educational resources for community outreaches.  

    Due to COVID-19 pandemic, minor educational and outreach efforts were modified to follow social distancing rules and restrictions.  Project was ongoing with the use of phone and internet communications.   Demonstrations  were implemented in several locations instead of just the farm as originally intended.   The program was implemented to two elementary schools serving grade levels 4 to 8, the only high school on island serving grades 10 and 12, and finally to the Executive Office Building in Ta’u Manu’a consisting of twelve different government agencies, and interested community members. 

    A powerpoint presentation on the process of photosynthesis and hydroponics  was followed by a demonstration activity that allowed participants to experiment and collect on the growth of bok choy plants for a period of 4-5 weeks.  Participants were able to witness the development in plants by recording the changes in  color, size, disease and pest attacks over the weeks using a data collection worksheet.  Participants were able to identify  the importance of key elements needed for a plant to grow, such as the sun.  The two elementary schools identified a decrease of plant growth when plants were not getting enough sunlight in the early weeks and were able to move plants to a sunny location, which then allowed the plants to excel.  Weekly visits to sites were routine.  After 5-8 weeks depending on the plant developments from each site, a culminating event to harvest and create a lunch meal using the grown produce concluded our program. 

    In conclusion, a “Teacher’s Hydroponics Resource Kit” was the product of this project.  Lesson plans were formatted to fit the American Samoa Department of Education common core state standards modified for English Language Learners.  The resource kit may be modified by teachers to implement various lessons that will focus on “growing your own food” “sustainability” “youth entrepreneurial opportunities” and “educational and career paths” to name a few.  Although this project has reached its end date, a greenhouse tour of the greenhouse demonstration of Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics is intended for community members in future.  

     

    Project objectives:

    List of Objectives:

    1. Construct a demonstration greenhouse site for the use of Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics.
    2. To research, implement and utilize Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics system to maximize yields and quality Bok Choy & Lettuce varieties in Manu’a; and Research feasibility of Kratky’s non-circulating hydroponics and determine sustainability of the system for use within the community.  
    3. To implement awareness outreach workshops on hydroponics, food insecurities and methods of sustainability in Manu’a communities.

    We will accomplish these objectives with the help of technical assistants, local agricultural professionals and project team.  We were able to tour and receive training and advice from visits to local hydroponic farms on the main island of Tutuila in April 2019.  Between April 2019 and February 2020, the farmer has been able to travel to Tutuila for follow-ups with the project team.  Communication and support between the project team have been active and mainly via phone and email.  

    This project will provide valuable experiences to the farmer, technical staff, community and limited resource growers in Manu’a, through the sharing of information through outreaches, demonstrations, and dissemination of research findings.

    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.