Source: UNIV OF HAWAII submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Nov 14, 2013
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2018
Grant Year
Project Director
Deenik, J.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Tropical Plant & Soil Science
Non Technical Summary
Empowering extension faculty and growers to make informed nutrient management decisions is a cornerstone of moving Hawaii's agricultural potential forward in the 21st century. The proliferation of smartphone technology combining internet access with GPS technology offers an unprecedented opportunity for extension agents and clients alike to make science-based site specific nutrient management decisions. Furthermore, the increasing accuracy, affordability, and accessibility of portable soil testing devices provide clientele with new opportunities to perform on-site soil fertility diagnosis to improve fertilizer use. Specifically, there is now an opportunity to bring on site soil nitrate tests to guide more efficient use of N fertilizers. The primary purpose of this project is to develop tools that will give extension agents, information, and portable soil testing equipment to make informed nutrient management decisions that simultaneously enhance productivity and protect our valuable natural resources. The project has three objectives: 1. Improve the delivery and comprehension of soil information to the public by developing a web-based soil information tools for the State of Hawaii; 2. Explore the use of in field soil fertility analysis including pH, electrical conductivity (EC), nitrate,and potassium (K); 3) to train extension agents in the use of mobile devices and in-field soil testing instruments to improve delivery of nutrient management decision making. The project will first, develop a soil atlas for the State of Hawaii and modify the UC Davis/NRCS SoilWeb app to make soil information accessible and comprehensible to extension agents, growers, and the general public, and second, evaluate the use of rapid in field soil fertility tests to guide fertilization in extensive vegetable production systems. Workshops and field days will be used to educate extension agents and growers on the use of mobile technology to improve nutrient management decision making.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The overall goal of this integrated project is to empower extension agents and various clientele to improve nutrient management decision making through the use of mobile technology and the exploration of portable soil testing technologies. The overall goal of this integrated project is to empower extension agents and various clientele to improve nutrient management decision making through the use of mobile technology and the exploration of portable soil testing technologies. Improve the delivery and comprehension of soil information to the public by developing a web-based soil information tools for the State of Hawaii. Explore the use of in field soil fertility analysis including pH, electrical conductivity (EC), nitrate,and potassium (K). Train extension agents in the use of mobile devices and in-field soil testing instruments to improve delivery of nutrient management decision making.
Project Methods
Objective 1: Improve the delivery of soil information At present soil information for the State of Hawaii is found in two published versions entitled "Soil Survey of the Islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, and Lani"[1] and "Soil Survey of the Island of Hawaii"[2] and accessible online through the interactive, web-based "Web Soil Survey" tool ( More recently, the University of California, Davis and the NRCS adapted Web Soil Survey to operate in conjunction with GPS functionality on smartphones and tablets (SoilWeb) providing on the go access to spatially explicit soil survey information. This tool allows the user to call up NRCS soil survey information for a given soil series based upon GPS coordinates. While this represents a powerful advancement in getting information into users hands in the field, the information is still written and presented in technical language and formats not easily understood and usable for the non-technical user. In relation to Objective 1, this project proposes two ways to improve the delivery of soil information to the general public. The first approach will be to develop a web-based, interactive soil map for the State of Hawaii. The format will be based conceptually on the Rainfall Atlas of Hawaii ( whereby users can move their cursor over any island and call up information on specific soil series across the State. In this way, a user in the field will be able to identify a soil of interest, call up a general description of the soil including highlights of its unique properties, agricultural potential, and any precautions regarding environmental quality. The interface will allow the user to choose the level of detail in terms of description and data with the option to access the full suite of soil characterization data, classification information and the various capability ratings available from the Soil Survey database. The interactive Soil Atlas webpage will be developed collaboratively with the GIS Spatial Laboratory in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM). The second approach will consist of modifying text in the SoilWeb app for smartphones into laymen's language. Presently, the SoilWeb app calls up soil series information and data directly from the NRCS Soil Survey database. This language is very technical in nature and difficult for most non-scientists to follow and use. Using language developed for the modified SoilWeb app will provide users with an intelligible description of the soil series. This work will be done in close collaboration with the Hawaii NRCS staff and an IT specialist. Other iOS and Android-based apps (i.e., CartoMobile and GISRoam) will also be considered as the SoilWeb app is modified for Hawaii. Additionally, the project will work closely with ADSC and other faculty in CTAHR, namely Dr. Russell Yost and Dr. Tomoaki Miura, to make an upgraded version of FACS available n the Web for clients to access soil and nutrient management decision support tools. Objective 2: Evaluating portable soil fertility testing alternatives A variety of portable soil testing instruments will be evaluated in the field. The instruments are listed in Table 1. The portable soil testing instruments will be evaluated by analyzing soil samples collected from commercial vegetable farms (both organic and conventional) on Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kaua`i, and at current field trials located at three CTAHR experiment stations (Poamoho, Waimanalo, and Kula Ag Park). In brief, the following procedures will be followed: 1) replicated soil samples (0-6 in) will be collected at each site and split in the field; 2) one sample will be analyzed by all 8 instruments in the field and the duplicate samples will be packed on ice and returned to the laboratory, 3) all samples will be analyzed by standard soil methods employed by the ADSC in the laboratory, 4) in field measurements will be plotted against measurements made in the laboratory and analyzed by regression analysis for quality assurance and quality control. Table 1. Portable pH, EC, nitrate and potassium sensors to be evaluated in the field. Parameter Instrument pH HANNA Instruments HI99121 Direct Soil pH probe pH Vernier LabQuest portable pH probe EC HANNA Instruments HI98331 Direct Soil EC Tester Nitrate Horiba B-741 LAQUAtwin Compact Nitrate Meter Nitrate HANNA Instruments HI96728 Nitrate Portable Photometer Nitrate Vernier LabQuest ion-specific nitrate electrode Potassium LAQUA Twin Potassium Meter B-731 Potassium HANNA Instruments HI96750 Potassium Portable Photometer Objective 3: Train extension agents Training modules on the use of mobile technologies and portable soil testing instruments will be developed and included in the PI's annual soil fertility workshop for extension faculty. Additionally, web-based training modules will be developed for rapid desemination. [1] This survey was published in 1973 and is available in hard copy and online as a pdf. [2] There are two versions for the Island of Hawaii. The first published in 1973 and available as a hard copy and online and the second published in 2013 and only available online.

Progress 11/14/13 to 09/30/14

Target Audience: The primary target audiences served by the project are Extension faculty, NRCS technical staff, farmers, new farmer training programs, and students in Hawaii and the American Affiliated Pacific (Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands). Efforts have included one-on-one interactions with extension faculty, presentations at new farmer training programs, farmer workshops, on-farm trials, developmental meetings with NRCS staff, and one-on-one meetings with farmers. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Farmer Field Schools 1. Four farmers received hands-on training to diagnose plant diseases/pests and implement variety trials. 2. Two meetings summarizing Farmer Field School activities were held in Kolonia, Pohnpei. One with the Department of Agriculture and the other with the Pohnpei Farmers Association. Biochar 1. One undergraduate honors student completed his honors thesis work on the remediation of Mn toxicity with biochar. 2. One undergraduate is halfway through his honors thesis project studying the influence of biochar ash content on soil properties and plant growth. Childrens Helathy Living Workshops were held in Pohnpei, Marshall Islands and Palau to provide training and measurement standardization for the Pohnpei (4 people), Marshall Island (6 people), and Palau (7 people) local teams assisting in the prevalence surveys. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Farmer Field Schools Biochar Results have been presented at the American Geophysical Unions 2013 Annual Meeting and the Soil Science Society of America CTAHR GIS Portal A demo of the Hawaii Soil Atlas was performed with the Director and staff of the Hawaii Agricultural Development Corporation. Childrens Healthy Living Preliminary survey results were presented to the Early Childhood Education Centers staff in Pohnpei and to one of the participating communities (Sekere). What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Biochar 1. Established field trials will continue to be monitored for changes in soil properties. In addition to laboratory tests in field soil testing capacity will be evaluated. Tests will include pH, K, and NO3. 2. Current undergraduate Honors student will continue to evaluate ash contributions to changes in soil properties and plant growth response. 3. A new student has been brought on board to study biochar effects on soil microbial community structure/function and the influence on plant phytohormormone response in relation to plant growth. Childrens Helathy Living 1. Prevalence Survey to be completed in Yap State (FSM), Kosrae State (FSM) and Chuuk State (FSM) 2. Data for all prevalence surveys continues to be entered and as data entry is completed for each jurisdiction community reports will be generated and disseminated appropriately. 3. Junior Researcher will continue to implement Community Food Systems research activity.

What was accomplished under these goals? Farmer Field Schools (Pohnpei, FSM) Building on work begun in summer of 2013, the Farmer Field School programcontinued in Sokehs, Nett, Uh and Madoleniwhm communities of Pohnpei. Farmer Field School programs were conducted in Feb 2014 to train 4 farmer leaders in IPM strategies and vegetablevariety selection trial protocols. Vegetable variety trials were established at four farms. Follow-up visits in July 2014 showed promising results for cherry tomato, eggplant, and Chinese cabbage production. Impact: 1) College of Micronesia faculty, extension agents, and farmers are knowledgeable and capable of diag nosing common plant diseases and pests on vegetable crops (powdery mildew, fusarium, etc...); 2) College of Micronesia faculty, extension agents, and farmers are knowledgeable and capable of implementing vegetable variety trials with the purpose of selecting high producing varieties. Biochar Laboratory work, greenhouse experiments, and field trials studying biochar effects on soil fertility and plant productivity have been completed and are ongoing. Laboratory studies to to test greenhouse gas emissions in an Oxisol (i.e., highly weathered, low fertility, tropical soil) were completed. Soil under four treatments (soil alone, soil +woodchip-based biochar, +organic fertilizer, and +biochar +organic fertilizer) were incubated at 16°C, 21°c, and 26°C to assess for labile C and apparent temperature sensitivity. When combined with an organic fertilizer, the application of biochar decreased labile C losses and reduced apparent temperature sensitivity while still maintaining corn yields. In general, as temperatures increase, soil respiration increases. However, if biochar promotes improved microbial C use efficiency, causes a shift to fungi (which partition C differently and respire less than bacteria), or physically protects labile organic matter in soil, then biochar may reduce the temperature sensitivity of soils by inhibiting organic matter from being degraded or by shifting the microbial community structure and function to one that uses C more efficiently, thus reducing respiration. To evaluate the potential of five biochars with differing physico-chemical properties in remediating Mn toxicity in acidic Oxisols a series of greenhouse experiments were implementedwith soybean as the test crop. Additionally, to compare the effects of calcium nutrition and pH, we conducted another experiment with 4 increasing rates of two different Ca sources, lime (CaCO3) and a neutral Ca salt (CaSO4). Our results showed that pH increase was effective in alleviating Mn toxicity from the soil; however, Ca nutrition independent of pH also contributed to alleviation. Biochar treatments maintained soybean growth similar to the limed control, despite having toxic levels of Mn in tissue and soil, suggesting alleviation by increasing plant Mn tolerance. A second planting in the same biochar treatments resulted in Mn toxicity in almost all biochars, suggesting that biochars' alleviating properties lack persistence in the soil, except for the anaerobic digest biochar, which continued to detoxify Mn. A follow-up bioassay grow-out was conducted, which gave results suggesting that alleviation from anaerobic digest biochar was from biochar-derived compounds absorbed into the plant. We propose that alleviation of Mn toxicity from biochar involves Mn tolerance through organic chelates, specifically phenolic compounds. Increasing internal tolerance with biochar can have implications not only in agriculture, but also in phytoremediation of heavy metals. Field trials testing the effect of an anaerobic digester biochar with and without an organic fertilizer supplement have shown no significant effects on napeir or sweet corn yields and soil properties one year after implementing the trials. CTAHR GIS Portal The Hawaii Soil Atlas webpage was completed and is now available to the public. Users can access the Atlas from personal computers to identify any soil in the state of Hawaii. The interactive webpage allows users to access descriptions and key data on all of Hawaii's soils. The information has been translated into lay language to make the soil information more usable for the broad public. The webpage has links to relevant websites containing technical information on the soils. Childrens Healthy Living Project I provided key leadership for the implementation and completion of three prevalence surveys on child health in Pohnpei, Marshall Islands, and Palau. Anthropometric data, sleep and activity behavior data, socio-economic and cultural data, and a 2-day food log were collected from 620 children in the three jurisdictions. Body mass index data for Pohnpei State show that the majority (78%) of the children fall within the healthy weight category, with 18% overweight and 4% obese according to USDA standards. Seventy-five percent of the children met the minimum standard for daily activity while 81% of the children did not meet the minimum sleep requirement for their age group. These data have been provided to Pohnpei State Public Health to be used to guide policy development to improve child health. The State Department of Education will use the data to inform policy development to promote healthy eating, activity and sleep behaviors at the Early Childhood Education Centers. In August 2013, a CHL sponsored addition to this study has been implemented to gather food system information from the parents/caregivers of children who previously participated in CHL measurement Pohnpei communities. The focus of this research activity is to gather baseline data to describe the current status of agroforest diversity (the range of cultivated food crops), its productivity (the quantity), and the relationship of biodiversity to health in one island community, Pohnpei of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The research activities will focus on two communities (Sekere and Wenik) where a prevalence survey was previously conducted by CHL in October 2013. Sekere is representative of a more urban population whereas Wenik is representative of a rural community in Pohnpei. These communities were also selected as preliminary analysis of anthropometric data indicating that child Body Mass Index (BMI) was significantly higher in Wenik than Sekere. The overall research goal is to investigate whether differences in the agroforest properties and perceptions are linked to measured differences in child health. Survey tools have been developed and sent to the UH IRB for approval. Initial mapping of the agroforest has begun serving as baseline for the development of remotely sensed maps classifying the agroforest.


  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Penton, C.R., Deenik, J.L., Popp, B.N., Bruland, G.L., Engstrom, P., Mueller, J., Worden, A., and Tiedje, J. 2014. Assessing N transformations in a flooded agroecosystem using the isotope pairing technique and N functional gene abundances. Soil Science 179:2-10
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Wilken, L.R., Novotny, R., Fialkowski, M.K., Boushey, C.J., Nigg, C., Paulino, Y., Leon Geurrero, R., Bersamin, A., Vargo, D., Kim, J., Deenik, J.L. 2013. Childrens Healthy Living (CHL) Program for remote underserved minority populations in the Pacific region: rationale and design of a community randomized trial to prevent early childhood obesity . BMC Public Health, 13:944
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Novotny, R., Fialkowski, M.K., Areta, A.A.R., Bersamin, A., Braun, K., DeBaryshe, B., Deenik, J., Dunn, M., Hollyer, J., Kim, J., Leon Guerrero, R.T., Nigg, C.R., Takahashi, R.T., and Wilkens, L.R. 2013. The Pacific Way to Child Wellness: The Childrens Healthy Living Program for Remote Underserved Minority Populations of the Pacific Region (CHL).
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Deenik, J.L., Penton, C.R., and Bruland, G.L. 2013. N cycling in flooded taro agriculture. Cooperative Extension Service Publication, CTAHR, SCM-31, pp. 8.