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

Building trust in food systems – here and in Cambodia

A version of this article originally appeared in the UC ANR Food Blog.

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.

In a vegetable field, Thort holds open the net door of a net house, with someone standing inside among the vegetable rows
Thort Chuong (now a Fulbright scholar and UC Davis grad student) welcomes us into a nethouse in Cambodia, owned by a farmer who tried it after joining a savings group and hearing about this new way he could grow vegetables without spraying pesticides. Karen LeGrand of UC Davis stands inside, among the leafy green seedlings in the nethouse. 

Establishing trust between actors in a food system has been critical for a Horticulture Innovation Lab project in Cambodia, focused on Continue reading Building trust in food systems – here and in Cambodia

Video: Irrigation solutions in Uganda require social science and farmer-led innovation

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.

She will give a 15-minute, TED-style talk on participatory research and other aspects of her agriculture work in Uganda on the Horticulture Innovation Lab project, “Developing farmer-led irrigation solutions.”

In 2016, Scow gave a 5-minute lightning talk on the same project, which you can find here as a preview for her upcoming talk: https://youtu.be/VqRV1RsnN3g

A public livestream of the conference’s main sessions will be provided, beginning at 8:30 a.m. PST, Jan. 23. Registration to attend Continue reading Video: Irrigation solutions in Uganda require social science and farmer-led innovation

Video: From seeds to grafted seedlings for farmers in Guatemala, Honduras

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.

James Nienhuis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison leads a project with the Horticulture Innovation Lab focused on expanding tomato grafting for entrepreneurship in Guatemala and Honduras.

Over the years, he has led other Horticulture Innovation Lab projects in Central America — first focused on evaluating tomato and chili varieties for disease resistance, then on helping farmers produce disease-resistant vegetable seed. He called these past projects, “Semillas de Esperanza” or Seeds of Hope.

But when the farmers he was working with began to sell seedlings Continue reading Video: From seeds to grafted seedlings for farmers in Guatemala, Honduras

Agricultural innovations at Kasetsart University, in SciDev.Net video

A video from SciDev.Net explores agriculture technologies at Kasetsart University in Thailand, aimed at the needs of smallholder farmers of horticultural crops.

The audio slideshow, “Simple agricultural innovation to empower farmers,” takes a closer look at several low-cost farming tools, including:

  • a cold room with a CoolBot for cooling fruits and vegetables after harvest
  • two solar dryers, including the UC Davis chimney dryer for drying produce
  • a solar-powered pump with drip irrigation system

Reporter Giovanni Ortolani interviewed Poonpipope Kasemsap, professor at Kasetart University, whose comments provide narration for most of the video.

“A lot of things can be done with a small investment, with innovations, in order to help the farmers so that they can live better lives,” Kasemsap says in the video. Continue reading Agricultural innovations at Kasetsart University, in SciDev.Net video