Evaluation of Pasture Forages to Improve Drought Tolerance in Combination with Biodynamic Agricultural Methods

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $24,814.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Spirit of the Earth
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Marie Mauger
Spirit of the Earth


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), peanuts
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, pasture renovation
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal summary:

    Drought conditions in pastures cause stress to forage, animals,
    and farmers.  With every percentage increase in soil organic
    matter (SOM), pasture land has the ability to hold 25,000
    additional gallons of water per acre (US Forest Service,
    2015).  Furthermore, every percentage increase of SOM can
    provide up to 30 pounds of available nitrogen per acre (US Forest
    Service, 2015).  In order to allow greater soil water
    holding capacity and extend the grazing season, different
    tropical pasture forages will be evaluated in combination with
    biodynamic farming practices.

    Since different forages occupy different areas of the
    rhizosphere, it is hypothesized that Brachiaria hybrid
    ‘Mulato II’ and perennial peanut (Arachis pintal) will
    offer forage later into drought conditions and grow
    synergistically together.  By utilizing biodynamic farming
    practices in combination with these forages, it is hypothesized
    that soil health, plant vigor, and drought tolerance will be
    improved.  Furthermore, it is hypothesized that biodynamic
    farming practices will strengthen the “life force” of the forage
    thus contributing to the health and vitality of the animals.

    Biodynamic practices have been utilized for over 100 years and
    provide an innovative approach to solving many of the problems
    faced by farmers and ranchers.  Biodynamic practices have
    the potential to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and
    pesticides which can lead to improved health of the
    applicator.  Biodynamic agriculture also demonstrates how to
    become a better steward of the land and grow through connecting
    with nature. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1 of this project is to evaluate the establishment of
    Brachiaria hybrid ‘Mulato II’ and Arachis
    perennial peanut with and without biodynamic

    Objective 2 is to assess soil health parameters. 

    Objective 3 is to measure plant sap of ‘Mulato II’ and perennial
    peanut in order to determine the health and productivity of
    forages within each treatment. 

    Objective 4 is to educate farmers on Kauai and throughout the
    state of Hawaii about biodynamic practices. 

    The first educational objective of this project is to inform
    farmers how to improve tropical pasture management and soil
    health utilizing the forages ‘Mulato II’ and perennial peanuts
    through workshops, a factsheet, articles, and the project annual
    and final report. 

    The second educational objective of this project is to raise
    awareness and teach farmers on Kauai about biodynamic practices
    including techniques for mixing and applying preparations,
    utilizing manure to make on-farm compost, and the benefits this
    method has for advancing sustainable agriculture.  

    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.