A $15,000 award won by Monsanto Hawai‘i for its efforts to conserve water in crop lands on Moloka'i has been donated to The Nature Conservancy’s Moloka‘i Program to help protect the island’s water resources.
Each year, Monsanto’s internal awards program recognizes innovation and initiative within the company. In 2010, more than 130 project nominations were submitted worldwide in six different categories, with Monsanto Hawai‘i winning the company’s conservation award. Specifically, Monsanto Hawai‘i saved nearly 12 million gallons of water and reduced the frequency of its watering by 50%.
The Moloka‘i Program will use the $15,000 fund for watershed protection efforts at Kamakou and Pelekunu, two Nature Conservancy forest preserves totaling 9,000 acres. The funds will also support the Conservancy-led East Moloka‘i Watershed Partnership, a consortium of 15 public and private landowners, agencies and community groups working to enhance the availability of water on the island.
In addition, Monsanto’s gift will be applied to the State’s Natural Area Partnership Program (NAPP), which provides state matching funds on a 2:1 basis for management of natural resources on private lands permanently dedicated to conservation. Through NAPP, Monsanto’s $15,000 gift will leverage an additional $30,000 from the State, for a total of $45,000 towards watershed protection on Moloka‘i.
“This award is a win-win for Moloka‘i. Monsanto has reduced its own water use, and the donation will help sustain one of Molokai’s key watersheds that supplies agricultural irrigation needs. On behalf of the Moloka‘i staff, I would like to thank Monsanto for this generous gift and for their continued support of our work,” said Ed Misaki, the Conservancy’s Moloka‘i Program director.
Misaki noted that since 2005, Monsanto has provided the Conservancy with annual grants totaling $110,000.
The Monsanto Hawai`i research team performed a series of studies in collaboration with the Moloka‘i and Kunia farms to better understand the movement of irrigation water in the soil and its uptake by the crop. By making key changes to their irrigation and fertigation practices, the team was able to achieve a savings of 11,750,000 gallons on a 350-acre crop plan. In the process, they cut the frequency of their watering in half and developed methods to ensure crop fields retained more nutrients during fertilization.
“The Monsanto Sustainable Yield Pledge Award is our company’s highest recognition of team contribution,” said Ray Foster, general manager of Monsanto Moloka‘i. “More importantly, what we learned was immediately put into practice here in Hawai‘i. It enabled us to do a better job of preserving Hawaii’s water resources, and has the potential to enhance Monsanto’s operations on a global level in places with limited water resources.”
Moving forward, Monsanto Hawai‘i continues to study and improve its procedures. According to the research team, irrigation in Hawai‘i has typically been managed on a pre-determined schedule with little consideration of crop stage, crop use, recent rainfall or current weather conditions. As irrigation management technology continues to improve, the potential exists to move towards a true on-demand irrigation program with preliminary results indicating a potential water savings upwards of 75,000 gallons per acre, the research team said.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.