Traditional Tree Initiative

Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry: Ecological, Economic, and Cultural Renewal

Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands is out of print. There may still be copies in used book stores in Hawai'i or at Amazon.

The Traditional Tree Initiative

A project to educate extension agents, farmers, ranchers and landowners about native and traditional trees for:

  • crop diversification
  • windbreaks
  • coastal protection
  • shelter and shade
  • soil improvement
  • water conservation
  • livestock fodder
  • woodlots
  • food security
  • and many other applications

Specialty Crops for Pacific Islands, the follow-up to Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands, is still in print

Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands: Their culture, environment, and use

Editor: Craig R. Elevitch
Hardcover - 816 pages
Full color - over 800 photographs

Format - 9" X 11" (22.8 x 27.9 cm)
Weight: 7 lb (3.2 kg)
Release date: July 2006
Publisher: Permanent Agriculture Resources
ISBN: 0970254458

 

 

download chapters (PDF) of Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands

Acacia koa
Acacia koaia
koa
koai'a
download2 MB
Agathis macrophylla Pacific kauri download540 KB
Aleurites moluccana kukui, candlenut download1 MB
Alphitonia zizyphoides toi download805 KB
Areca catechu betel nut download1 MB
Artocarpus altilis breadfruit download1.1 MB
Artocarpus camansi breadnut download700 KB
Artocarpus heterophyllus jackfruit download1 MB
Artocarpus mariannensis dugdug download820 KB
Barringtonia procera cutnut download1.1 MB
Broussonetia papyrifera paper mulberry download850 KB
Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (syn. B. gymnorhiza) large-leaf mangrove download790 KB
Calophyllum inophyllum kamani, beauty leaf download1.1 MB
Cananga odorata ylang-ylang download650 KB
Canarium indicum
Canarium harveyi
canarium nut download740 KB
Casuarina equisetifolia
Casuarina cunninghamiana
beach she-oak & river she-oak download1 MB
Citrus spp.
C. aurantifolia
C. aurantium
C. grandis
C. hystrix
C. limon
C. macroptera
C. medica
C. mitis
C. paradisi
C. reticulata
C. sinensis
Fortunella spp.
citrus species
lime
sour orange
pummelo
Kaffir lime
lemon
wild orange
citron
calamondin
grapefruit
mandarin
sweet orange
kumquat
download1.8 MB
Cocos nucifera coconut download1.8 MB
Cordia subcordata kou download1 MB
Endospermum medullosum whitewood download840 KB
Erythrina variegata coral tree download1.1 MB
Fagraea berteroana pua kenikeni download700 KB
Flueggea flexuosa poumuli download890 KB
Gliricidia sepium gliricidia download1.1 MB
Gnetum gnemon gnetum download500 KB
Hibiscus tiliaceus beach hibiscus download1 MB
Inocarpus fagifer Tahitian chestnut download870 KB
Intsia bijuga vesi download1.1 MB
Mangifera indica mango download1.0 MB
Metrosideros polymorpha 'ohi'a, ohia, ohia lehua download 2.1 MB
Metroxylon paulcoxii
M. sagu
M. salomonense
M. vitiense
M. warburgii
sago palm download1.3 MB
Morinda citrifolia noni, Indian mulberry download860 KB
Musa species banana and plantain download1.9 MB
Musa and Ensete banana and plantain cultivar overview download1.7 MB
Pandanus tectorius pandanus download2.2 MB
Pometia pinnata tava download733 KB
Pterocarpus indicus narra download767 KB
Rhizophora mangle
R. samoensis
R. racemosa
R. x harrisonii
Atlantic-East Pacific red mangroves download755 KB
Rhizophora apiculata
R. mucronata
R. stylosa
R. x annamalai
R. x lamarckii
Indo-West Pacific stilt mangroves download936 MB
Samanea saman rain tree download811 KB
Santalum yasi
S. austrocaledonicum
sandalwood download1.0 MB
Santalum ellipticum
S. freycinetianum
S. haleakalae
S. paniculatum
Hawaiian sandalwood species download948 KB
Syzygium malaccense Malay apple download648 KB
Terminalia catappa tropical almond download1.5 MB
Terminalia richii malili download813 KB
Thespesia populnea milo download1.0 MB
Tournefortia argentea beach heliotrope download708 KB

Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry are distributed by agroforestry.net with support from:

WSARE logo
 SPC logo GTZ logo
flepdofaw Kaulunani logo US Forest Service logo Muriel & Kent Lighter
 USDA NRCS logo PAR logo agroforestry.net logo

Adding Value to Locally Grown Crops in Hawai'i

Value-Added Innovation for Hawai‘i Growers:
Making the Family Farm Profitable

A project by Craig Elevitch and Ken Love

Free value-added guide for Hawai'i producers released

HOLUALOA, HAWAI'I – A free 58-page guide entitled, Adding Value to Locally Grown Crops in Hawai‘i: A Guide for Small Farm Enterprise Innovation is now available [download the guide]. Because of the high cost of labor, land, and materials in Hawai‘i, family farms are only economically sustainable if they can produce high-quality products that are valued above cheap imports. This guide helps growers add value to all aspects of their farm enterprise and offers resources for further developing their strategies. “If you cherish the farming lifestyle and want to keep farming, you have to make your farm profitable. This guide goes a long way towards showing how to escape from the fatal trap of commoditization by adding value for the consumer,” observes Dr. Kent Fleming, an extension economist who has developed numerous cost-of-production spreadsheets for the University of Hawai'i and other organizations worldwide.

The guide was authored by Craig Elevitch and Ken Love with input from agricultural professionals statewide. Elevitch is an agroforestry educator whose most recent book Specialty Crops for Pacific Islands (2011) provides insights into sustainable cultivation and processing techniques for local and export markets with an emphasis on production methods, postharvest processing, and marketing. Love, widely known as a passionate advocate for the innovative small farm, is co-owner of Love Family Farms in Kona, Hawai'i, which produces a range of value-added products including jams, jellies, dried fruits, and coffee.

"Adding value is an essential component of small farm sustainability," says Love, who has extensive experience working with farm enterprises. "There are many different ways to add value in growing, processing, and marketing products. This guide is about finding ways of adding value to your operation that are best suited for you and that are ultimately profitable."

The publication was produced with funds from the State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the Agribusiness Incubator Program of the University of Hawai‘i, and the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development.  

There are three ways to get a copy of the guide:

1. Download as pdf file.
2. Pick up a free hard copy (subject to availability)
3. Purchase a hard copy from Amazon.com

1. Download your copy of the value-added guide

Download Adding Value to Locally Grown Crops in Hawai‘i: A Guide for Small Farm Enterprise Innovation by Craig Elevitch and Ken Love (PDF file).

2. Pick up a hard copy of the value-added guide (limited quantities!)

A limited number of hard copies will be available for pick up at the following locations:

Hilo, Hawai'i Island: UH Komohana Research Extension Center, 875 Komohana Street, Hilo, HI 96720, regular office hours

Kona, Hawai'i IslandKeauhou Farmers Market, Saturdays 8:00 am - 12:00 noon

Puna, Hawai'i Island: Kua O Ka La Public Charter School, Makai side main office (Directly beside ‘Ahalanui County Park [warm pond]), school days 9:00 am - 12:00 noon

Waimea, Hawai'i Island: Waimea Homestead Farmers Market, Honopua Farms' booth (Roen and Ken Hufford), Saturdays 7:00 am - 12:00 noon

Lihue, Kaua'i: Kaua'i Cooperative Extension Service, State Office Building, 3060 Eiwa Street, Room 210, Lihue, regular office hours

Honolulu, O'ahu: UH Honolulu Extension Office, 1955 East-West Rd. Ag Sci III Room 217, Honolulu, HI 96822, regular office hours

Pearl City, O'ahu: UH Pearl Urban Garden Center, 955 Kamehameha Hwy., Pearl City, regular office hours

Kahuhui, Maui: UH Kahului Extension Office, 310 Kaahumanu Ave., Bldg. 214, Kahului, HI 96732, regular office hours

Moloka'iUH Moloka'i Cooperative Extension Office, Ho'olehua, regular office hours

Lana'i: Lana‘i Senior Center, 309 Seventh Street, Lana'i City


Inspiration, Imagination, Innovation

Even though hundreds of new crops have been introduced to Hawai‘i over the past 200 years, few continue to be economically viable for family farms when sold as raw commodities. The high cost of labor, land, and necessary supplies to produce a crop in Hawai‘i make most products from the U.S. mainland and many countries far cheaper than local products, despite the costs of shipping.

Most family farms in Hawai‘i can only be economically sustainable if they harvest, process, package, transport, sell, and provide services in ways that add value to their crops. Participants of this workshop will learn about

  • An expanded view of adding value to all products and practices
  • Ways to focus efforts at minimal cost for maximum effect
  • Approaches that control risk
  • Resources for planning and funding

Topics covered include adding value in the following areas

  • Selecting crops and varieties
  • Developing market niches
  • Ensuring optimal crop quality
  • Processing a range of profitable products
  • Packaging and labeling for increased sales
  • Developing a valuable brand identity
  • Certifications (organic, etc.) that increase sales and profits
  • Customer service to strengthen customer loyalty
  • Pricing for a range of different markets (wholesale, retail, direct, etc.)
  • Market development to increase sales

Workshop time and locations (completed in March 2013)

Value-Added Innovation for Hawai‘i Growers: Making the Family Farm Profitable

Workshops on Hawai‘i Island, Kaua'i, O'ahu, and Maui

With Craig Elevitch, Ken Love, and specialist presenters

Hilo, Hawai‘i, Wed., March 20, 2013 Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) (Google map for Hilo venue). With guest presenter Dr. Marisa Wall of PBARC, who leads research programs that encompass an entire production and postharvest system, from the seed to the consumer.Dr. Francis Zee of USDA/ARS will join the afternoon session to share his work with tea, 'ohelo berry and pesticide-free ginger production.

Holualoa, Kona, Hawai‘i, Thurs., March 21, 2013 Kona Imin Center (Google map for Kona venue). With guest presenter Emmerich Grosch, known throughout Hawai'i and the Pacific for his knowledge of small-scale processing and innovative farm product development.

Kalaheo, Kaua‘i, Wed., March 27, 2013 National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kalaheo (Google map for Kauai venue). With guest presenter Dr. Diane Ragone, director of the Breadfruit Institute, who is working with breadfruit value-added products.

Pearl City, O‘ahu, Thurs., March 28, 2013 O‘ahu Urban Garden Center (University of Hawai‘i) (Pearl City location information). With guest presenter Steven Chiang, who, as Director of University of Hawai'i’s Agribusiness Incubator Program, has helped clients see annual profits triple on average.

Kahului, Maui, Fri., March 29, 2013 Cary & Eddie's Hideaway Restaurant (Google map for Kahului venue).

Project Leaders

Craig Elevitch has been an educator in agroforestry since 1991. His latest book, Specialty Crops for Pacific Islands (2011), provides insights into sustainable cultivation and processing techniques for local and export markets with an emphasis on innovative production methods, postharvest processing, and marketing.

Ken Love, widely known as a passionate tropical fruit expert, is co-owner of Love Family Farms in Kona, Hawai‘i, which produces a range of value-added products including jams, jellies, dried fruits, and coffee. Ken’s publications include a very popular series of fruit variety posters for tropical fruits, avocado, citrus, fig, and banana.

Sponsors

This project was produced with funds from the State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. Additional funding was provided by the Agribusiness Incubator Program of the University of Hawai‘i and the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development.

Mahalo for provision of workshop venues by Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (USDA/ARS PBARC), Hawai‘i County, National Tropical Botanical Garden, University of Hawai‘i O‘ahu Urban Garden Center, and Cary & Eddie's Hideaway Restaurant. This workshop is a presentation of Permanent Agriculture Resources, Holualoa, North Kona, Hawai‘i, par@agroforestry.net

Contact information

Email par@agroforestry.net

Specialty Crop Profiles

SPECIALTY CROPS FOR PACIFIC ISLANDS

BY CRAIG R. ELEVITCH (EDITOR)Specialty crops cover 200px

Specialty crops provide a rapidly growing economic opportunity for farmers and gardeners who are interested in diversifying their crops and who are willing to innovate their production methods, postharvest processing, and marketing. This project promotes high quality food, fiber, and healthcare crops grown in diverse agroforestry systems to provide family farms both subsistence and commercial opportunities.

Farm and Forest Production and Marketing (FFPM) profiles for 32 crops detail essential information for crop development: horticulture and botany; the roles for each crop in mixed-species agroforestry; nutrition and food security; commercial products, product quality standards; location and size of markets; post-harvest processing; opportunities for local value-added processing; and the potential for genetic improvement. 

Download the book chapters below or purchase the book (your purchase helps support our work).

Bamboo
(various species)
Dr. Andrew Benton, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR); Dr. Lex A.J. Thomson, FACT Project, Secretariat of the Pacific Community; Peter Berg and Susan Ruskin, bamboo experts, Hawai'i

download

(2.1MB PDF)

Banana & Plantain
(Musa spp.)
Jeff Daniells, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation; Dr. Lois Englberger, Island Food Community of Pohnpei; Adelino S. Lorens, Office of Economic Affairs, Pohnpei

download

(2.6MB PDF)

Black Pepper
(Piper nigrum)
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa; and K.T. Cannon-Eger, agriculturalist

download

(1.2MB PDF)

Breadfruit
(Artocarpus altilis)
Dr. Diane Ragone, Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Chili Pepper
(Capsicum spp.)
Dr. Hector Valenzuela, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(1.2MB PDF)

Chocolate, Cacao
(Theobroma cacao)
Dr. Prakash K. Hebbar, CropBioSol Inc. Crop Management/IPM Consultants, Dr. H.C. 'Skip' Bittenbender, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa; Daniel O'Doherty, CTAHR, UH Manoa

download

(2.7MB PDF)

Coconut
(Cocos nucifera)
Dr. Mike Foale, University of Queensland; Dr. Hugh Harries, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

download

(1.5MB PDF)

Coffee
(Coffea arabica)
Virginia Easton Smith, UH Manoa, Cooperative Extension Service-Kona; Dr. Shawn Steiman, Coffea Consulting; Craig Elevitch, Permanent Agriculture Resources

download

(1.9MB PDF)

Giant Swamp Taro
(Cyrtosperma chamissonis, syn. C. merkusii)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

download

(1.3MB PDF)

Giant Taro, 'ape
(Alocasia macrorrhiza)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

download

(1.6MB PDF)

Ginger (edible)
(Zingiber officinale)
Dr. Hector Valenzuela, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Honey Bees
(Apis mellifera)
Dr. Lorna Tsutsumi, Forestry & Natural Resource Management, UH Hilo; Darcy E. Oishi, Hawaii Department of Agriculture

download

(1.6MB PDF)

Kava
(Piper methysticum)
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.4MB PDF)

Koa
(Acacia koa)
Dr. JB Friday, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(2.8MB PDF)

Lychee
(Litchi chinensis)
Dr. Yan Diczbalis, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Macadamia Nut
(Macadamia integrifolia & M. tetraphylla)
Dr. Mike Nagao, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.5MB PDF)

Mangosteen
(Garcinia mangostana)
Dr. Yan Diczbalis, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Moringa
(Moringa oleifera)
Dr. Ted Radovich, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(0.8MB PDF)

Pumpkin & Squash
(Cucurbita spp.)
Dr. Ted Radovich, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(1.5MB PDF)

Sandalwood
(Santalum spp.)
Dr. Lex A.J. Thomson, FACT Project, Secretariat of the Pacific Community; Dr. John Doran, independent consultant; Dr. Danica Harbaugh Reynaud, AuthenTechnologies; Dr. Mark D. Merlin, Botany Department, UH Manoa

download

(2.8MB PDF)

Sweet Potato
(Ipomoea batatas)
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.7MB PDF)

Tamanu, Kamani
(Calophyllum inophyllum)
Dr. JB Friday and Dr. Richard Ogoshi, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.3MB PDF)

Tannia
(Xanthosoma spp.)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

download

(1.2MB PDF)

Taro
(Colocasia esculenta)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Dr. Mary Taylor, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

download

(2.3MB PDF)

Tea
(Camellia sinensis)
Koen den Braber, ADDA Organic Project, Hanoi, Vietnam; Dwight Sato, UH Manoa, Cooperative Extension Service-Hilo; Eva Lee, tea grower and consultant, Volcano, Hawai'i

download

(2.0MB PDF)

Vanilla
(Vanilla fragrans)
Dr. Janice Y. Uchida, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.4MB PDF)

Highlighting value-added strategies

Avocado (Persea americana)
Citrus (Citrus species)
Fig (Ficus carica)
'ohelo berry (Vaccinium reticulatum)
Rollinia (Rollinia deliciosa and R. mucosa)
Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)
Yam (Dioscorea alata, D. esculenta, D. bulbifera and d. nummularia)

Craig Elevitch, Permanent Agriculture Resources and Ken Love, tropical fruit consultant

download

(2.2MB PDF)

Specialty Crops for Pacific Islands

SPECIALTY CROPS FOR PACIFIC ISLANDS

by Craig R. Elevitch (editor)Specialty crops cover 200px

Specialty crops provide a rapidly growing economic opportunity for farmers and gardeners who are interested in diversifying their crops and who are willing to innovate their production methods, postharvest processing, and marketing. This project promotes high quality food, fiber, and healthcare crops grown in diverse agroforestry systems to provide family farms both subsistence and commercial opportunities.

Farm and Forest Production and Marketing (FFPM) profiles for 32 crops detail essential information for crop development: horticulture and botany; the roles for each crop in mixed-species agroforestry; nutrition and food security; commercial products, product quality standards; location and size of markets; post-harvest processing; opportunities for local value-added processing; and the potential for genetic improvement. 

Download the book chapters below or purchase the book (your purchase helps support our work).

Bamboo
(various species)
Dr. Andrew Benton, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR); Dr. Lex A.J. Thomson, FACT Project, Secretariat of the Pacific Community; Peter Berg and Susan Ruskin, bamboo experts, Hawai'i

download

(2.1MB PDF)

Banana & Plantain 
(Musa spp.)
Jeff Daniells, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation; Dr. Lois Englberger, Island Food Community of Pohnpei; Adelino S. Lorens, Office of Economic Affairs, Pohnpei

download

(2.6MB PDF)

Black Pepper 
(Piper nigrum)
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa; and K.T. Cannon-Eger, agriculturalist

download

(1.2MB PDF)

Breadfruit
(Artocarpus altilis)
Dr. Diane Ragone, Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Chili Pepper 
(Capsicum spp.)
Dr. Hector Valenzuela, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(1.2MB PDF)

Chocolate, Cacao 
(Theobroma cacao)
Dr. Prakash K. Hebbar, CropBioSol Inc. Crop Management/IPM Consultants, Dr. H.C. 'Skip' Bittenbender, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa; Daniel O'Doherty, CTAHR, UH Manoa

download

(2.7MB PDF)

Coconut
(Cocos nucifera)
Dr. Mike Foale, University of Queensland; Dr. Hugh Harries, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

download

(1.5MB PDF)

Coffee
(Coffea arabica)
Virginia Easton Smith, UH Manoa, Cooperative Extension Service-Kona; Dr. Shawn Steiman, Coffea Consulting; Craig Elevitch, Permanent Agriculture Resources

download

(1.9MB PDF)

Giant Swamp Taro 
(Cyrtosperma chamissonis, syn. C. merkusii)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

download

(1.3MB PDF)

Giant Taro, 'ape 
(Alocasia macrorrhiza)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

download

(1.6MB PDF)

Ginger (edible) 
(Zingiber officinale)
Dr. Hector Valenzuela, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Honey Bees 
(Apis mellifera)
Dr. Lorna Tsutsumi, Forestry & Natural Resource Management, UH Hilo; Darcy E. Oishi, Hawaii Department of Agriculture

download

(1.6MB PDF)

Kava
(Piper methysticum)
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.4MB PDF)

Koa
(Acacia koa)
Dr. JB Friday, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(2.8MB PDF)

Lychee
(Litchi chinensis)
Dr. Yan Diczbalis, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Macadamia Nut 
(Macadamia integrifolia & M. tetraphylla)
Dr. Mike Nagao, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.5MB PDF)

Mangosteen
(Garcinia mangostana)
Dr. Yan Diczbalis, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

download

(1.1MB PDF)

Moringa
(Moringa oleifera)
Dr. Ted Radovich, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(0.8MB PDF)

Pumpkin & Squash 
(Cucurbita spp.)
Dr. Ted Radovich, Dept. Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH Manoa

download

(1.5MB PDF)

Sandalwood
(Santalum spp.)
Dr. Lex A.J. Thomson, FACT Project, Secretariat of the Pacific Community; Dr. John Doran, independent consultant; Dr. Danica Harbaugh Reynaud, AuthenTechnologies; Dr. Mark D. Merlin, Botany Department, UH Manoa

download

(2.8MB PDF)

Sweet Potato 
(Ipomoea batatas)
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.7MB PDF)

Tamanu, Kamani 
(Calophyllum inophyllum)
Dr. JB Friday and Dr. Richard Ogoshi, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.3MB PDF)

Tannia
(Xanthosoma spp.)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

download

(1.2MB PDF)

Taro
(Colocasia esculenta)
Dr. Harley Manner, University of Guam, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Dr. Mary Taylor, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

download

(2.3MB PDF)

Tea
(Camellia sinensis)
Koen den Braber, ADDA Organic Project, Hanoi, Vietnam; Dwight Sato, UH Manoa, Cooperative Extension Service-Hilo; Eva Lee, tea grower and consultant, Volcano, Hawai'i

download

(2.0MB PDF)

Vanilla
(Vanilla fragrans)
Dr. Janice Y. Uchida, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Manoa

download

(1.4MB PDF)

Highlighting value-added strategies

Avocado (Persea americana)
Citrus (Citrus species)
Fig (Ficus carica)
'ohelo berry (Vaccinium reticulatum)
Rollinia (Rollinia deliciosa and R. mucosa)
Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)
Yam (Dioscorea alata, D. esculenta, D. bulbifera and d. nummularia)

Craig Elevitch, Permanent Agriculture Resources and Ken Love, tropical fruit consultant

download

(2.2MB PDF)

The project supports:

  • integrating trees and crops (agroforestry)
  • commercial and non-commercial plantings of all sizes, including homegardens
  • small-scale commercial operations suitable for small lots
  • local food production for happier and healthier communities
  • traditional crops
  • community food self-reliance.

Project outcomes include increased adoption of specialty crops, micro-enterprise development, local food production, and sustainable multi-crop agroforestry systems, thereby supporting economic and ecological viability of our communities.

The project is funded by:

SPONSORSHIP

Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry is sponsored by: 

WSARE logoWSARE logo

County LogoPAR logoagroforestry.net logo

Nitrogen Fixing Trees - Multipurpose Pioneers

nitrogen 400Nitrogen Fixing Trees for Agroforestry

Nitrogen fixation is a pattern of nutrient cycling which has successfully been used in perennial agriculture for millennia. This article focuses on legumes, which are nitrogen fixers of particular importance in agriculture. Specifically, tree legumes (nitrogen fixing trees, hereafter called NFTs) are especially valuable in subtropical and tropical agroforestry. They can be integrated into an agroforestery system to restore nutrient cycling and fertility self-reliance.

On unvegetated sites, "pioneer" plants (plants which grow and thrive in harsh, low-fertility conditions) begin the cycling of nutrients by mining and accumulating available nutrients. As more nutrients enter the biological system and vegetative cover is established, conditions for other non-pioneering species become favorable. Pioneers like nitrogen fixing trees tend to benefit other forms of life by boosting fertility and moderating harsh conditions.

NFTs are often deep rooted, which allows them to gain access to nutrients in subsoil layers. Their constant leaf drop nourishes soil life, which in turn can support more plant life. The extensive root system stabilizes soil, while constantly growing and atrophying, adding organic matter to the soil while creating channels for aeration. There are many species of NFTs that can also provide numerous useful products and functions, including food, wind protection, shade, animal fodder, fuel wood, living fence, and timber, (see chart for specific species yields) in addition to providing nitrogen to the system.

Nitrogen: From the Air to the Plants

Nitrogen is often referred to as a primary limiting nutrient in plant growth. Simply put, when nitrogen is not available plants stop growing. Although lack of nitrogen is often viewed as a problem, nature has an immense reserve of nitrogen everywhere plants grow--in the air. Air consists of approximately 80% nitrogen gas (N2), representing about 6400 kg of N above every hectare of land. However, N2 is a stable gas, normally unavailable to plants. Nitrogen fixation, a process by which certain plants "fix" or gather atmospheric N2 and make it biologically available, is an underlying pattern in nature. (See box below for details on how nitrogen fixation works).

How to Use NFTs in a System

In the tropics, most of the available nutrients (over 75%) are not in the soil but in the organic matter. In subtropical and tropical forests, nutrients are constantly cycling through the ecosystem. Aside from enhancing overall fertility by accumulating nitrogen and other nutrients, NFTs establish readily, grow rapidly, and regrow easily from pruning. They are perfectly suited to jump-start organic matter production on a site, creating an abundant source of nutrient-rich mulch for other plants. Many fast-growing NFTs can be cut back regularly over several years for mulch production.

The NFTs may be integrated into a system in many different ways including clump plantings, alley cropping, contour hedgerows, shelter belts, or single distribution plantings. (See figure below). As part of a productive system, they can serve many functions: microclimate for shade-loving crops like coffee or citrus (cut back seasonally to encourage fruiting); trellis for vine crops like vanilla, pepper, and yam; mulch banks for home gardens; and living fence and fodder sources around animal fields.

NFT illus feian01Ways to integrate nitrogen fixing trees in your plantings
 

Planting Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Species Selection

A survey of your area will be helpful in determining the habit and vigor of local NFTs. Some are small and produce edible shoots and pods, ideal for home garden use; others are large and fast growing for fuel wood or poles. Decide on what yields you want from your NFTs, and choose a diversity of species. For some characteristics of many nitrogen fixing trees, this chart may be of use.

Seed Pregermination Treatment (Scarification)

In many NFTs, the hard seed coat must be scarified in order to allow absorption of water, hence germination. There are several methods: hot water is the most common. Water temperature should be approximately 70-90 C° (160°F). The volume ratio should be 5-10 parts water to one part seeds. Seeds are placed in hot water for 1-3 minutes, then rinsed. Seeds may be soaked overnight at room temperature. A useful chart is given on the FACT Net website.

Seed Inoculation

After scarification, a sticking agent such as vegetable oil or plain water is applied sparingly to seeds, and inoculum dusted into the mix. Seeds should be sown immediately. Do not expose inoculated seed to extremes in temperature or direct sunlight.

Planting

Plant material in the form of bare root seedlings, stump cuttings and branch cuttings should be kept moist and protected until planting. Punch a small hole in the ground with the same diameter as the plant material. Seedlings should be placed in the hole with the root/shoot collar of the tree at soil level. Stump cuttings are handled likewise. Branch cuttings should be scarified in several places with a sharp knife to promote rooting and put in the ground about one third of their length.

Establishment

Initially NFTs require moisture and adequate nutrients, as well as protection from weed competition. The best way to achieve these conditions is to amend the soil and sheet mulch at the time of planting.

A Caution

As the goal in agroforestry is to foster a productive and stable ecosystem, rather than simply to add nitrogen to the system, NFTs should be used with due care and oversight. Too many nitrogen fixing plants can overnitrify the soil and pollute ground and surface waters. NFTs are not a panacea. Most will not thrive in shade or fertile conditions. Because of their ability to thrive under poor conditions, they can easily become weedy. Therefore, if possible, use only NFTs which are already established in your area, or that have a history of not becoming weeds. NFTs can also become competitive for available soil nutrients, especially in arid areas-careful and informed management practices are advised.

Also, be aware that there are many other significant avenues for nitrogen fixation in nature, such as free-living nitrogen fixing bacteria, which should also be incorporated into a design.

How Biological Nitrogen Fixation Works in Legumes

Working with a group of bacteria called rhizobia, legumes are able to pull nitrogen out of the air and accumulate it biologically. The bacteria, which are normally free-living in the soil in the native range of a particular legume, infect (inoculate) the root hairs of the plant and are housed in small root structures called nodules. Energy is provided by the plant to feed the bacteria and fuel the nitrogen fixation process. In return, the plant receives nitrogen for growth.

There are thousands of strains of rhizobia. Certain of these will infect many hosts, certain hosts will accept many different strains of rhizobia. Certain hosts may be nodulated by several strains of rhizobia, but growth may be enhanced only by particular strains. Therefore, when introducing hosts to a new area it is extremely important to also introduce a known effective symbiotic rhizobia strain. Such effective strains have been identified for thousands of the important nitrogen fixing legumes, and can be purchased at low cost for the value returned. The best method for ensuring effective nitrogen fixation is introduce a known effective strain of Rhizobium to the potting medium at the time of sowing. Large, healthy nodules may also be used to inoculate seeds. To determine if the nodule is effective, it may be cut open. Effective nodules will have a pink to dark red pigment inside.

In conventional cropping systems it is estimated that 50-800 kg of nitrogen per hectare per year are accumulated by nitrogen fixing plants, depending on species, soil and climate, Rhizobium efficiency, and management. Equivalent quantities of manufactured nitrogen is produced using an energy intensive process, and the end product is high-priced nitrogen in a form which can be detrimental to soil ecology.

NFT illus feian02

References and further reading:

FAO, 1984. Legume Inoculants and Their Use, FAO of the United Nations, Rome. Excellent practical handbook for inoculation.

MacDicken, Kenneth G. 1994. Selection and Management of Nitrogen-Fixing Trees. Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, Morrilton, Arkansas, USA.

National Academy of Sciences. 1979. Tropical Legumes: Resources for the Future, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C..

Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association (Currently the FACT Net). 1989-1994. NFT Highlights. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association, Morrilton, Arkansas, USA.

Author Contact:

Craig Elevitch and Kim Wilkinson
P.O. Box 428, Holualoa, HI 96725 USA
agroforestry.net

© 1995,1998

(Printed originally in the Permaculture International Journal, Issue No. 56)

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