Trellis: UH Manoa student helps with farmers’ first soil tests in Nepal

grad student portrait
Tiare Silvasy, UH Mānoa graduate student who participated in Trellis Fund project in Nepal

Editor’s note: Tiare Silvasy is a master’s student in Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa who participated in a Trellis Fund project led by the Center for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD-Nepal). She recently returned from a trip to Nepal to work on this project, which focused on soil testing and nutrient management for smallholder farmers — many of whom had never had a soil test before. Here’s a Q&A with highlights from her trip.

Question: How does your work on this Trellis Fund project fit into your studies and career?

Tiare Silvasy: In Hawaii, my thesis is on nutrient management and I’m looking at local organic fertilizers, specifically at meat and bone meal, produced locally here from the islands’ fish and meat wastes. We’re looking at using those local materials on our farmer’s fields, instead of importing fertilizer products. Meat and bone meal contain a relatively high amount of nitrogen for an organic fertilizer.

Young man pointing to pH strip indicator, with older man looking on, along with other students and Tiare holding the test strips
Silvasy and students from Nepal explain soil test results to a farmer. (Photo by Saroj Khanal)

Tell us about the main work you did on this Trellis Fund project during this trip.

The farmers we met with in Nepal had never had a soil test done and didn’t really know what their soil’s baseline nutrients were. A lot of them are using farmyard manure Continue reading Trellis: UH Manoa student helps with farmers’ first soil tests in Nepal

Mitcham honored as ASHS Outstanding International Horticulturist

Elizabeth Mitcham, UC Davis scientist, was honored by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) as its Outstanding International Horticulturist for 2015.

She accepted the award Aug. 4 at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to horticultural sciences for 10 years or more, with emphasis on international activities and impacts.

portrait: Elizabeth Mitcham
Beth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab and Postharvest Technology Center at UC Davis (high-res)

At UC Davis, Mitcham is director of both the Horticulture Innovation Lab and Postharvest Technology Center programs. As director of the internationally recognized Postharvest Technology Center, she has helped train professionals from more than 40 countries in how best to care for fruits and vegetables after harvest, to reduce food waste and improve food quality. She has hosted numerous foreign scientists and students in her lab at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, where her research focuses on the regulation of fruit ripening, understanding calcium deficiency disorders, and maintaining fruit quality after harvest.

Mitcham also leads the Horticulture Innovation Lab, which targets fruit and vegetable research in developing countries to reduce poverty and improve nutrition. Her leadership helps build international partnerships between scientists and develop technologies that meet the horticultural needs of smallholder farmers. The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“I’ve really become passionate about what horticulture can bring to reducing poverty and improving lives,” she said. “Meeting people who are now able to send their children to school or buy books—those one-on-one interactions are what really stick with me. It is so rewarding to be able to work in this field.” Continue reading Mitcham honored as ASHS Outstanding International Horticulturist