Award for conserving water will be used to support water protection on Molokai
The Nature Conservancy News Release
A $15,000 award won by Monsanto Hawaii for its efforts to conserve water in crop lands on Molokai has been donated to The Nature Conservancy’s Molokai 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 Hawaii winning the company’s conservation award. Specifically, Monsanto Hawaii saved nearly 12 million gallons of water and reduced the frequency of its watering by 50 percent.
The Molokai 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 Molokai 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 Molokai.
“This award is a win-win for Molokai. 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 Molokai 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 Molokai Program director.
Misaki noted that since 2005, Monsanto has provided the Conservancy with annual grants totaling $110,000.
The Monsanto Hawaii research team performed a series of studies in collaboration with the Molokai 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 11.75 million 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 Molokai. “More importantly, what we learned was immediately put into practice here in Hawaii. 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 Hawaii continues to study and improve its procedures. According to the research team, irrigation in Hawaii 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.