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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Conservation Practices in Hawaii

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Monsanto has technology and manufacturing operations on three islands in the state of Hawaii. Monsanto’s seed passes through Hawaii multiple times in its breeding, biotechnology trait development, trait integration, pre-foundation and foundation seed production units during development to take advantage of the favorable climate to grow multiple generations of corn and soybeans each year. 

At all locations, environmental stewardship is a key component of Monsanto’s freedom to operate. Water and land are limited and precious commodities in Hawaii, and the Monsanto Hawaii team has taken the lead to preserve them. 

On all islands and in all operations, crops are produced using drip irrigation. Not only does this irrigation method preserve water by delivering it directly into the plant root zone, it reduces the amount of fertilizer needed to produce the crop, because fertilizer is delivered directly to the root zone in small increments, as opposed to one, larger application made at the beginning of the growing season. As a result, the nutrients can be utilized more completely by the crop. Corn, for example, can be produced using up to 60% less nitrogen with this method. 

The Biotechnology Trait Conversion Center on Maui utilizes R1 water from the municipal waste system to produce corn seed. R1 water is defined by the County of Maui as “tertiary treated recycled water that can be used without restrictions.” Through collaboration with the County of Maui, Monsanto purchases and uses more than 185,000 gallons of R1 water per day. This collaboration benefits both Monsanto, by having a dedicated, secure water source, and the community from not having to further process the water prior to environmental release. 

Monsanto recently purchased a 2,289 acre (926 hectare) farm on the island of Oahu in Kunia. The farm is a multifunctional site hosting all aspects of Monsanto’s pipeline year ‘round. The farm’s watershed drains directly into Pearl Harbor, and the erosion of the red volcanic soil present in the area is a very visible event. Therefore, Monsanto devoted three years to developing and installing a conservation plan that includes water terraces, catchments and greenways to divert water and capture sediment before it leaves the farm. 

What makes this project unique is that in April 2011, Monsanto Kunia received a competitive grant in the amount of US$84,000 from the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council. The grant was jointly funded by the U.S. EPA and the Hawaii State Department of Health, and was used to help fund a small part of the US$500,000 cost of the project. The Kunia farm conservation plan became the centerpiece of the Honouliuli Watershed Restoration project and is a great recognition of Monsanto’s dedication to stewardship. 

Monsanto held a “field day” during the summer of 2011, which was open to all growers in Oahu. During the day, growers were able to observe demonstrations in berming, terracing, catch basin construction, cover cropping and grass waterway development to further their own stewardship techniques and knowledge. 

This is an excerpt from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. The entire report can be found at Monsanto.com.

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