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Bayer Hawaii Celebrates World Soil Day

December 5th is World Soil Day! Celebrated annually since 2002, the purpose of World Soil Day is to raise awareness about the importance of soil health and to encourage governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to the sustainable management of soil resources.

 

By Tim Stevens, Site Enablement Lead of the Maui Product Development Center for Bayer Crop Science

 

Soil in hands

 

At Bayer Hawaii, we understand the importance of maintaining healthy and productive soil. Some of our ongoing soil conservation efforts include cross slope grass plantings, diversion terraces, cover crops, grass barrier strips, windbreaks, and halting all tillage activities under excessive wind conditions. But even with all of the conservation practices we currently have in place, there is always room for improvement.

 

Advancements in digital tools are helping to collect data in real-time to address challenges in our farming operations. Also known as precision agriculture, these tools provide more timely and accurate information about what is happening in our fields which in turn allows us to be more precise in our applications of water and other resources.

 

In 2014, Bayer established a goal to increase irrigation water efficiency by 25 percent by 2020. Having implemented advanced irrigation management techniques across our farms on Oahu, Maui and Molokai, we’re proud to announce that we have surpassed our goal. As a sustainable agriculture company, we are committed to improving farming and conservation techniques and will continue to implement modern agriculture practices across all Bayer Hawaii farms to allow us to operate in a more sustainable manner. 

 

Several of these practices include:

  • Recycled Water from the municipal waste system for all irrigation and non-potable water needs. Used at Bayer’s Pi`ilani farm on Maui and our Upper Kunia farm on Oahu, R1 water is defined as “tertiary treated recycled water that can be used without restriction.” R1 water for agricultural irrigation diverts the use of water from the freshwater supply. Through a partnership with the county of Maui and the Kunia Water Association on Oahu, Bayer has saved over 36 million gallons of unused R1 water from being discharged into the ocean. This water is not only used to irrigate corn crops, but has also enabled the company to establish a cover crop program which is responsible for maintaining a diverse ecosystem on the farm and replenishing valuable soil nutrients.

     

  • Drip tube irrigation delivers water directly to the plant root zone and reduces the amount of water and fertilizer needed to produce the crop. This method saves more than eleven million gallons of water per year and uses 60 percent less nitrogen.

     

  • Soil Moisture Probes, also known as soil moisture sensors, extend about three feet underground. These moisture probes provide data every 15 minutes on root depth and water absorption activity to adjust irrigation recommendations as needed. This allows for efficient irrigation based on crop demand, which in turn minimizes any excess water use and maximizes fertilizer uptake.

  • Weather Sensing Networks provide unique, real-time data that is captured through weather stations strategically positioned throughout Bayer’s farms. The data helps to calculate irrigation needs to build better irrigation systems and management practices. 

     

  • Satellite imagery is collected using an advanced difference vegetation index filter, which has been developed specifically for Bayer’s primary corn crop. This imagery is designed to provide valuable information on irrigation stress, plant health and assist in management evaluations.

Hawaii’s unique location in the middle of the Pacific, coupled with Bayer’s commitment to community, will continue to drive our efforts to conserve natural resources, operate our farms and facilities safely, while minimizing the environmental impact of our farming practices.