‘Āina Koa Pono intends to cultivate and harvest various biomass feedstocks in a sustainable manner that will improve both the health and tilth of the soil while using good farming practices. AKP is seeking advice from the Hawaiian Islands Trust on the use of over 12,000 acres it has leased from the Edmund C. Olson Trust II and the Mallick Trust.
Initially, we intend to harvest and remove existing and invasive biomass species, such as Christmas berry and to harvest eucalyptus and green waste products. Pasture and forage lands on the property that were abandoned have since become inundated with Christmas berry (Brazilian pepper, on DLNR’s list of most invasive plants in Hawai‘i.) Those lands will be cleared of the invasive trees and will once again be made available to animal pasture usage.
Our facility should be beneficial to our Ka‘ū neighbors who grow coffee and macadamia nuts and who farm cattle. We can use the waste products from their operations, such as macadamia nut hulls, old nonproductive trees, and coffee fruit pulp for biomass. We are looking to partner with cattle ranchers to develop dual land use by selecting a non-invasive grass that meets our energy needs as well as the nutritional needs of cattle stock.
AKP will thoroughly analyze the land and soil types on the property and will work with Hawai‘i Agricultural Research Center (HARC) and the University of Hawai‘i to integrate the appropriate feedstock crops. We intend to incorporate the testing and protocols developed by UH and HARC and to implement appropriate weed control and proven eradication protocols. We will cultivate long-term tree crops, local non seeding napier grass, tested sterile grasses, energy crops from the USDA, University of Hawai‘i and HARC trials and possibly sweet sorghum varieties. These crops will bring under-utilized agricultural land back into production with economic benefits to local farmers and workers. AKP has consulted with Hawaiian Islands Land Trust regarding appropriate biofuel feedstock, and will do so again as further crops are identified.
AKP is creating a three-step agricultural approach:
- Develop and establish a plan for biomass cultivation with appropriate controls;
- Develop a plan to restore the land;
- Incorporate a 30-foot buffer zone around the crops to provide a firebreak and to allow access for fire fighting and crop control.
With the beginning of AKP operations, we look forward to supporting the diversified agriculture efforts of our joint venture partner, the Edmund C. Olson Trust, and helping to achieve Hawai‘i’s goal of increased energy security.