Designing a Regenerative Systems Approach for Sustainable Turmeric Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,521.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G135-23-W9212
Grant Recipient: University of Hawaii Manoa
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Theodore Radovich
University of Hawaii, Manoa

Information Products


  • Additional Plants: other


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, cropping systems, intercropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, participatory research, workshop
  • Pest Management: mulches - living, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    In 2018, turmeric was reported to have the second highest farm value in published crops ($1.2 million) in Hawaii (USDA NASS, 2020). Despite its value as a crop, organic turmeric producers in Hawaii are limited by agricultural land availability, as well as fertilizer and pesticide options. As global agricultural production demands continue to climb and the need for regenerative, limited-input agricultural systems becomes more urgent, sustainable intensification via a thorough understanding of ecological processes merits critical examination.

    Cover crops implemented in an intercropping system are a valuable tool for increasing productivity and profitability through decreased reliance on external inputs, increased yields, and enhanced ecosystem function. We propose to approach the issue of sustainable intensification with cover cropping through a collaborative partnership with a local turmeric cooperative. The intention of this project is to improve production ease and economic prospects for turmeric producers, in addition to conserving and enhancing natural resources, through the pursuit of novel cover crop research.

    This collaborative project co-developed with a turmeric grower and processor will test 5 different cover crop species mixes as intercrops within a turmeric production field. Data on biomass (quantity and C:N ratio), ecological function (weed suppression, free-living nematode populations, and CO2 respiration), and turmeric yield as influenced by the different mixes will be collected over a total of 2 turmeric seasons. Project results will be communicated to growers, agricultural professionals and the public through multiple in-person and online communication styles and materials (see education plan for details).

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research objective:

    1. To identify optimal species composition for intercropping cover crops in turmeric (Curcuma longa cv. Roma) production systems in Hawaii by assessing (1) biomass production, (2) ecological function, and (3) turmeric yield by 5 May, 2023.

    Educational objective:

    1. To disseminate project results to 200 local producers, as well as agricultural professionals, researchers, students, and interested community members through a series of workshops, online videos, and newsletter extension bulletins.
    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.