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.
Tell us about the main work you did on this Trellis Fund project during this trip.
What is the role of trust in our food system? In the United States, our trust in food is often implicit. We can generally trust that the fruits and vegetables we buy at a grocery store or farmers market are safe to eat — and we are often free to shop without even thinking about that trust.
Between farmers and agricultural scientists too, trust often plays an important role. If you’re a farmer, you need to be able to trust that investing your time or money in a new technique or in attending a workshop will indeed improve your business.
But it can be easy to forget that trust is a critical first step in many of these agricultural relationships.
Post-conference update: You can find the video of Kate Scow’s talk in the online conference video, beginning at about 52:00.
Kate Scow, UC Davis soil science professor, is one of the featured speakers for the “United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Conference: Research to Action on the African Continent” on Jan. 23 at UC Davis.
At the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s 2016 annual meeting, speakers were invited to give brief “lightning talks” to share highlights of their recent horticultural work. Audio slideshows of these 5-minute talks are now available on YouTube.