LIHU‘E — Water efficiency in agricultural endeavors avoids the use of domestic water and affords more water for consumers.
“We recognize a farmer or rancher who makes an outstanding effort to conserve water by avoiding the use of domestic water for irrigation, or who apply innovative techniques or make improvements to increase efficiency in an existing system,” said Ted Inouye of the East and West Kaua‘i Soil and Water Conservation District.
Phil Davis of Kailani Farms in Kilauea and Moloa‘a and Tony Brun, a Koloa rancher, were selected as the East and West district outstanding water conservationists by the conservation district.
Growing from a quarter-acre farm in 1991 to 30 acres in the Kilauea and Moloa‘a area, Inouye said Davis has noticed a definite improvement with regards to water efficiency on a per acre basis while working with the East Kaua‘i SWCD.
Kailani Farms employs between 10 and 12 employees throughout the year and sells his produce to local restaurants, hotels and supermarkets as well as to the Mainland.
All 30 acres of Kailani Farms are irrigated utilizing a variety of methods including drip irrigation, impact sprinklers and a hybrid lay-flat system to cultivate salad greens, herbs, ginger, eggplants and lettuce.
Additionally, Davis has been through the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources food safety program and Kailani Farms is an organically certified farm.
“We at the East Kaua‘i SWCD would like to recognize Phil for his proper use of the water resource and for being an admirable land steward while providing essential commodities to the residents of Kaua‘i and beyond,” Inouye said.
Brun was recognized for the implementation of his Koloa Ranch Conservation Plan which addresses several pasture management issues, said Peter Tausend, West Kaua‘i SWCD chairperson.
The foundation of Brun’s plan was the installation of almost a mile of new and reliable stock water pipeline and five new watering troughs along the pipeline.
The new water sources allowed for fencing to separate the different water sources for better pasture rotation, a practice which benefits the pastures by more uniform grazing forages in each pasture before the livestock is move to the next field.
Pasture rotation allows more adequate recovery periods following each grazing period and enables forages to become vigorous and taller, shading the soil surface from sun and drying effects of the wind.
The healthier forage plants develop extensive root systems which probe the soils, seeking soil moisture and plant nutrition for re-growth, also contributing organic matter to the soils which improve water infiltration and retention for future plant growth.
Tausend said the delivered water is more efficiently used by livestock and the landscape is now managed in such a manner that rainfall is more efficiently stored for future plant production and less vulnerable to evaporation or runoff.
Peter Craddock, Chief Engineer and Manager of the Department of Water, said Hawai‘i is now part of the National Rural Water program which will hopefully generate more monies to expand on these types of water conservation projects.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.