Hawaiʻi Soil Health Resource Guide
This resource guide contains useful information for farmers and ranchers interested in building better soil on agricultural lands. A soil in good health can improve irrigation efficiency, reduce fertilization needs, reduce pest pressure, reduce erosion, and improve overall plant productivity. Hawai‘i’s unique island landscapes and history of soil degradation through intensive crop production heighten the importance and benefit of rebuilding soil health.
The resources we’ve pulled together are broken down into eight categories, each with a brief description. Individual experts or entities are listed to help you know who to reach out to with questions or to learn more. We welcome you to stay in touch with our organization’s work to support Hawaii’s soil health movement via our website and newsletter.
Service providers that wish to be included in our resource packet can send us an info sheet and/or website link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soil Health Management Plans
Soil health management planning is a new tool in Hawaii, used to identify and document soil health resource concerns and develop goals to improve overall soil health. Planning creates a comprehensive overview tool for the farmer to see where there may be missed opportunities to build soil health and what management goals to prioritize. Plans can also help communicate goals with other local producers, and demonstrate interest in resources available for soil health. Below are the organizations we know of offering soil health planning services.
Soil Testing Services
Soil health and soil nutrient testing assist land stewards in making informed management decisions. Soil nutrient testing can optimize crop production and protection of natural resources. Soil can be assessed for its health in biological, chemical, and physical properties. These soil properties support diverse processes critical to productive, resilient, and sustainable farms. We do not endorse any specific service providers or products.
Online Tools for Farmers
These free online resources provide site specific information for land stewards to use in supporting management decisions.
In-Field Tools for Farmers
Practices to Support Soil Health
Principals that support soil functioning include maintaining the presence of living roots, limiting disturbance, maximizing soil cover, and maximizing biodiversity. A small selection of practices that can help achieve these principles are listed below. Financial support from NRCS assistance programs or other funding sources may be available for implementing soil health practices.
Incorporating organic matter can improve the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil. Sourcing local organic matter can be a challenge.
University Hawaii Publications, Researchers, and Extension Agents
University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources promotes the success of Hawai`i’s agriculture, strong and healthy communities, and sound stewardship of Hawai‘i’s land and natural resources. Their publications are publicly available and easily found through internet searches, though faculty webpages are the best place to visit for news on current research efforts and publications.
Soils faculty at UH Mānoa
Dr. Jonathan Deenik, Department Chair – Soil Fertility and Management
Dr. Susan Crow, Associate Professor – Soil Ecology and Biogeochemistry
Dr. Noa Lincoln, Assistant Professor – Indigenous Crops and Cropping Systems
Dr. Nhu Nguyen, Associate Professor – Soil Microbial Ecology and Symbioses
Dr. Hue Nguyen, Professor of Environmental Soil Chemistry
Dr. Koon-Hui Wang, Associate Professor – Soil and Agroecosystem Health Management
Non-profits & Funding Programs for Farmers Interested in Soil Health
These organizations provide training, events, and other services. Please visit their webpages for up-to-date information and opportunities.
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29880 through the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under project number OW20-354. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.