NASS launches its weekly state spotlight series today with Hawaii – where more farmers generate their own electricity than in any other state. Check back next Thursday for more highlights from the 2012 Census of Agriculture!
The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
Hawaii may have only 7,000 farms, but our farming community is truly special and unique. For example, it is the only state in the United States where farmers grow taro, pineapples for commercial sales, and coffee. And if having such unique commodities isn’t enough, it is also the state that has the largest percentage of farmers and ranchers participating in renewable energy projects, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. More than 18 percent of our farms produce their own renewable energy on their farms.
The island environment is conducive to renewable energy production. Hawaii has abundant sunshine and steady trade winds which are favorable for investing in renewable energy systems. As a result many farms can set up photovoltaic panels and windmills to convert the sun and the wind to electricity. Read more »
The coconut rhinoceros beetle, a new invasive species to Hawaii, can grow up to 2 inches long. Photo Credit: Chris Kishimoto, Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Big, creepy, and horned, the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB) loves to feed on—and kill—coconut and other palms, banana plants, and more. This invasive species, detected in Hawaii in December 2013, makes the perfect poster child for USDA’s Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month—a child only its mother could love.
How did it get here? And how can we prevent the spread of damaging, invasive species like this unwanted, oversized beetle? These are great questions to consider as USDA kicks off Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Throughout April, we’re raising public awareness about the threat of invasive species and informing people how to prevent their spread—so we’ll face fewer surprises like the CRB. Read more »
Last week, President and Mrs. Obama hosted France’s President, Francois Hollande for a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House. State Dinners are a way to celebrate U.S. relations with international friends and allies. Past dinners at the White House during the Obama Administration have hosted visiting heads of state from nations including India, Mexico, China, Germany, and Great Britain. In many ways, these events are an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate for invited guests and the world, the cultural and culinary heritages of our country.
The State Dinner last week was an excellent example, highlighting the diversity of American agricultural and rural products that our nation has to offer. The dinner celebrated the “best of American cuisine” and featured dry-aged rib eye beef from Colorado, trout from Maine, cheese from Vermont, chocolate from Hawaii, and potatoes from New York, Idaho, and California. The wines served at the dinner included excellent selections featuring California, Washington State, and Virginia offerings. However, beyond the menu itself an equally impressive feature was the visible presence of American cut flowers that decorated and added a stunning visual touch for guests at the White House. The floral arrangements displayed at the dinner included: Read more »
A female Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds on an artificial membrane loaded with a blood substitute as part of tests that have shown that natural compounds found in breadfruit flowers are highly effective at repelling biting bugs. (Photo by Peggy Greb, ARS)
This post is part of the Science Today feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Breadfruit has been a hit in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia for more than 3,000 years because of its many pluses: This tropical staple food crop is plentiful and packed with nutrients. It’s hailed by some as a possible solution to world hunger, but it could play a totally different—but equally important—role in saving lives.
Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that breadfruit flowers contain three chemicals that work wonderfully for repelling flying insects, including mosquitoes. In Hawaii and other regions, people have known for years that burning dried clusters of the flowers, known as “male inflorescences,” can keep bugs at bay. Read more »
Children gather around Regional Forester Randy Moore’s desk as he signed a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Pacific Southwest Region supports the Children’s Bill of Rights, which encourages children to experience outdoor activities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mario Chocooj)
Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore believes that every child should have the opportunity to go camping, take a hike and explore nature. And with the stroke of a pen, he signed in late September a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights as a group of children gathered to watch.
Moore wanted to publicly show the Pacific Southwest Region’s support for the statewide initiative, which was created to encourage children to experience outdoor activities and promote active, healthy lifestyles.
“You all represent the future,” said Moore to the children huddled around his desk. “It is important for us to have you learn about the outdoors, and we want you to enjoy being outdoors.” Read more »
This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system. For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, you’re not alone. Tracing its roots back to the Aztecs and rice cultivation in South China, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic system. Basically, the plants keep the water clean for the fish to grow, and the fish fertilize the plants. Both help the other to survive and thrive.
A wide variety of foods—lettuce, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, herbs, strawberries, melons, and tomatoes, for example—all flourish through aquaponics farming. Read more »