Three Big Island farms participated this year in the grant-funded Nutrition Grown Farmers’ Educational Program and Farm Trials— Chad’s Organics (Chad Wasserman) in Hilo, Waianaia Earth Temple (Naomi and Yoav Melamed) in Kapaau, and the farm of Courtney Zajicek/Nubaui Khentamentiu in Papa`aloa.

CHAD’S ORGANICS

Photo of Chad and his Nutrition Grown bed of lettuces.  This is commercial certified organic production.

Plant tissue analyses from Chad’s Organics

Discussion:  (Note:  This is certified organic, greenhouse-grown lettuce with beds in production for several years.)  This sample is from the Nutrition Grown bed.  The heads were 12 to 20 ounces each (average 16 ounces).  (They got larger if they had room in the bed.)  By contrast, the lettuce from the Control bed was definitely smaller at 8 to 16 ounces per head (average 12 ounces).  This is an increase of 33%.

Protein in this sample showed a 24% increase over USDA value.

Calcium had a 211% increase over USDA value.  The calcium level in the soil was high.

Iron was 76% higher as compared to USDA value.  We did add iron to the soil.

Magnesium had a 94% increase over USDA value.  The magnesium level in the soil was OK.

Phosphorus decreased 11% compared to USDA value.  I’m happy with this, as phosphorus is typically overly supplied in human diets.  Many farmers overuse phosphorus while under-using other needed minerals.  Chad’s soil phosphorus level was excellent.

Potassium was more than double the USDA value.  We added a small amount of potassium to the soil.

Sodium decreased 59% compared to USDA.  Sodium was on the lower side of normal on the soil analysis.  I did not suggest adding sodium due to the electrical conductivity of the soil being high. The value from USDA may come from lettuce grown in soils with excessive sodium, such as some sections of California where much lettuce is produced.

Zinc showed a nice increase of 149% over USDA.  Zinc was high in the soil.

Copper had a 69% increase over USDA values.  The copper level in the soil was good.

Manganese was 440% higher than USDA.  We did add manganese to the soil.

Boron is not reported by USDA, however this lettuce had 0.427 mg/100g, which is a good amount.

Discussion:  This lettuce was grown intermingled in the same (Nutrition Grown) bed as the previous sample, however we see significant differences due to cultivar variations.  The USDA comparison values came from Butterhead, Boston, Bibb as opposed to Green Leaf, var. Crispa in the previous sample, though there were not large differences between these cultivars in the USDA base.

The Nutrition Grown heads were 8 to 16 ounces each (average 12 ounces).  By contrast, the lettuce from the Control bed was definitely smaller at 7 to 12 ounces per head (average 9.5 ounces).  This is an increase of 26%.  About the Control lettuce, Chad commented on the log sheet—“good flavor, healthy plants, some yellowing of under leaves”.  About the Nutrition Grown, Chad commented—“excellent, crispy, good flavor, very happy with results”.

Protein in this sample showed a 30% decrease compared to USDA value. One thing to keep in mind about nitrogen and protein is that the amount of protein on this type of analysis is a calculated figure based off of the nitrogen level.  Having a high nitrogen level does not necessarily mean there is a high level of quality protein.  Sulfur is critical for formation of certain essential sulfur-bearing amino acids (“essential” means these must be supplied in the human diet).  The USDA does not report the sulfur value, so we have no idea about the quality of this so-called “protein”.  Lots of farmers overuse quick-acting, manufactured nitrogen fertilizers which may pump up the values for nitrogen while not addressing protein quality.  We used a slow-release form of nitrogen which is organically certified.

Calcium had a 9% increase over USDA value.  The calcium level in the soil was high.

Iron was 74% lower as compared to USDA value.  The iron in the soil was low compared to the calcium.  We added the maximum amount of iron allowed.  This will correct with further amending over time. The soil pH was very high at 7.4.  This makes iron much less available.

Magnesium had a 31% decrease compared to USDA value.  The magnesium level in the soil was on the low side of normal, especially compared to the calcium level.  We could add some magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) to help correct this issue.  We do have to be careful to not over-apply this product because this soil already has a high sulfur level and a high electrical conductivity (EC).

Phosphorus decreased 52% compared to USDA value.  This is not necessarily a problem, as phosphorus is typically overly supplied in human diets.  Many farmers overuse quick-acting phosphorus while under-utilizing other needed minerals.  Chad’s soil phosphorus level was excellent.

Potassium was 5% lower than the USDA value.  We added a small amount of potassium to the soil.  We may need to add more in the future.

Sodium increased 15% compared to USDA.  Sodium was on the lower side of normal on the soil analysis.  Sodium in human diets is not the criminal it is sometimes made out to be.  Sodium from natural sources such as vegetables and unrefined salts, is an absolute necessity for health.  It is the highly heated, refined salts that are the problem.

Zinc showed a decrease of 20% compared to USDA.  Zinc was high in the soil, however manganese was very low in the soil.  Without sufficient manganese, zinc cannot be utilized.  The maximum amount of manganese was added to the soil.  Again, the issue is the high pH of the soil at 7.4.

Copper had a 119% increase over USDA values.  The copper level in the soil was good.

Manganese was 76% higher than USDA.  As mentioned, we did add manganese to the soil.

Boron is not reported by USDA, however this lettuce had 0.230 mg/100g, which is a good amount.

Summary of Soil Reports for Chad’s Organics

The soil was analyzed in January and again in May after harvest.  The initial report showed a need for nitrogen, potassium, boron, iron, manganese, cobalt, and molybdenum.  All of these were added in certified organic forms.  The follow-up soil report showed improvements in 10 of 21 parameters. There is still work to be done to optimize the soil, however the crop result comparisons show that we did improve the soil.

Course and Farm Trial Evaluation comments by Chad—

“Dr. Jana Bogs has put together a comprehensive course into understanding the how soil is directly connected to human health and nourishment. As a farmer it is critical to know what the nutrient levels in your soil are and what is needed to make nutrient dense food. This course will provide you with the tools and education to make informed decisions about soil amendments and practices to get you on the right path to success.”

“I saw improved growth, vigor and overall quality in the [Nutrition Grown] amended plot.”

“Overall it was an excellent course and there are many topics that are covered and though my main interest was in the soil science and balancing the nutrients, it did correlate to nutrition and human health.”

 

THE MELAMED’S GARDEN AT WAIANAIA EARTH TEMPLE

PHOTO:  Naomi & Yoav Melamed’s terraced garden beds with mixed lettuces. Control on upper terrace, Nutrition Grown amended on lower terrace.

Plant tissue analyses from Naomi & Yoav Melamed’s Garden—Overall, there was 62% increase in yield (weight) of lettuce due to size of heads from the Nutrition Grown bed vs. the control bed.  The lettuce stored well in the refrigerator for two weeks, when it got eaten. 😊

Discussion:  (Note:  The soil was rocky and thin, with only a 2” probing depth in some locations in the bed.)

The protein value of this sample is 30% lower than USDA value. (Review the comments on protein in the previous sample discussion.) Sulfur is important for formation of certain amino acids (protein). Soil was very deficient in sulfur.  We added the maximum allowed to be added at one time, so as to not damage the microbial life.  The pH of the soil was very high, at 8.0.  Sulfur helps to drop the pH.  Sulfur is very water soluble.  Sulfur will need to continue to be added over time to adjust this level, and then we should see an increase in the protein in the plant tissue.  However, I believe that the protein quality of this sample is good because the percentage of sulfur as compared to the percentage of nitrogen on the “raw numbers report” showed greater than 10%, indicating adequate available sulfur for high quality protein formation.

Calcium had a 59% increase over USDA value.  The calcium level in the soil was high.

Iron was 57% lower as compared to USDA value.  The iron in the soil was low compared to the calcium.  Again, we added the maximum amount of iron allowed.  This will correct with further amending over time.  The soil pH was very high at 8.0.  This makes iron much less available, as seen in this chart (Chart Credit:  pda.org.uk):

Magnesium had a 59% increase over USDA value.  The magnesium level in the soil was high.

Phosphorus increased 2% over USDA value.  I’m happy with this, as phosphorus is typically overly supplied in human diets.  The soil phosphorus level was excellent.

Potassium was more than double the USDA value.  Potassium was high in the soil.

Sodium decreased 72% compared to USDA.  Sodium was on the lower side of normal on the soil analysis.  I suggest spraying diluted ocean water on the soil.  I did not originally suggest this due to the electrical conductivity of the soil being a bit high, however, a little ocean water at this point could be good.

Zinc showed a nice increase of 188% over USDA.  Zinc was a little low in the soil and we did add some.

Copper had a 164% increase over USDA values.  The copper level in the soil was good.

Manganese was 17% lower than USDA.  Iron and manganese have to be balanced in the soil.  Since iron was low, manganese seemed sufficient, therefore we did not add any.  However, as the iron level is built, we may be able to add more manganese.  The soil pH was very high at 8.0.  This makes manganese much less available, as seen in the above chart.  As we are able to adjust the pH down closer to the ideal of 6.4, manganese will become more available.

Boron is not reported by USDA, however this lettuce had 0.248 mg/100g, which is a good amount.  We did add boron to the soil.

 

Discussion:  This sample had a great deal of similarities to the previous sample.  The lettuces were grown in the same bed.  So differences seen are mainly due to genetic variations.

The protein value of this sample is 32% lower than USDA value. (Review the comments on protein in the second sample in this article.) Sulfur is important for formation of certain amino acids (protein). Soil was very deficient in sulfur.  We added the maximum allowed to be added at one time, so as to not damage the microbial life.  The pH of the soil was very high, at 8.0.  Sulfur helps to drop the pH.  Sulfur is very water soluble.  Sulfur will need to continue to be added over time to adjust this level, and then we should see an increase in the protein in the plant tissue.  However, I believe that the protein quality of this sample is good because the percentage of sulfur as compared to the percentage of nitrogen on the “raw numbers report” showed greater than 10%, indicating adequate available sulfur for high quality protein formation.

Calcium had a 37% increase over USDA value.  The calcium level in the soil was high.

Iron was 52% lower as compared to USDA value.  The iron in the soil was low compared to the calcium.  Again, we added the maximum amount of iron allowed.  This will correct with further amending over time. The soil pH was very high at 8.0.  This makes iron much less available, as seen in the above chart.

Magnesium had a 37% increase over USDA value.  The magnesium level in the soil was high.

Phosphorus increased 4% over USDA value.  I’m happy with this, as phosphorus is typically overly supplied in human diets.  The soil phosphorus level was excellent.

Potassium had a 93% increase over the USDA value.  Potassium was high in the soil.

Sodium decreased 86% compared to USDA.  Sodium was on the lower side of normal on the soil analysis.  I suggest spraying diluted ocean water on the soil.  I did not originally suggest this due to the electrical conductivity of the soil being a bit high, however, a little ocean water at this point could be good.

Zinc showed a large increase of 221% over USDA.  Zinc was a little low in the soil and we did add some.

Copper had a 105% increase over USDA values.  The copper level in the soil was good.

Manganese was 40% lower than USDA.  Iron and manganese have to be balanced in the soil.  Since iron was low, manganese seemed sufficient, therefore we did not add any.  However, as the iron level is built, we may be able to add more manganese. The soil pH was very high at 8.0.  This makes manganese much less available, as seen in this chart.

Boron is not reported by USDA, however this lettuce had 0.259 mg/100g on the tissue analysis, which is a good amount. We did add boron to the soil.

Summary of Soil Reports for Naomi and Yoav Melamed’s Garden

The soil was analyzed in Febuary and again in May after harvest.  The initial report showed a need for sulfur, nitrogen, boron, iron, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium, and silicon.  All of these soil amendments were added.  The follow-up soil report showed improvements in 10 of 21 parameters. There is still work to be done to optimize the soil, however the crop results show that we did improve the soil.

Course and Farm Trial Evaluation comments by Naomi and Yoav–

“We love the Beyond Organic philosophy! It has great potential to offer the tools to farmers to make choices that can change the world for the better. Dr. Jana points to the importance of growing food for best nutrition, which often means tastier and better shelf life, too. It is a win-win, as health is wealth! Thank you for all of your hard work.”

 

THE FARM OF COURTNEY ZAJICEK & NUBAUI KHENTAMENTIU

Plant tissue analyses from Courtney Zajicek’s & Nubaui Khentamentiu’s Farm—Note:  Their farm is on old sugar cane land with many soil nutrient deficiencies in a high rainfall area.  The garden plots are in their first season.  The control bed only had compost added.  There was an unprecedented amount of rain for 3 weeks just after amending the plots.

They planted multiple types of crops, including red chard, red and purple turnips, and bok choy.  There was an overwhelming 9-fold increase (920%) in yield (weight) of red chard from the Nutrition Grown bed vs. the control bed.  The following picture shows the 3 largest plants from each bed.

Here is the comparison of the red turnips (roots) from the Nutrition Grown treated bed compared to USDA nutrient values.

Discussion:  This sample is from the Nutrition Grown bed.

Protein in this sample showed a 44% increase over USDA value.

Calcium had a 38% increase over USDA value.  The calcium level in the soil was initially very low.  Calcium was added in the forms of calcium silicate and dolomite, due to the needs for silicon and magnesium respectively.

Iron was 84% higher as compared to USDA value.  There was plenty of iron present in the soil.

Magnesium had a 151% increase over USDA value.  The magnesium level in the soil was bolstered by the addition of dolomite.

Phosphorus decreased 41% compared to USDA value.  I’m happy with this, as phosphorus is typically overly supplied in human diets.  Many farmers overuse phosphorus while under using other needed minerals.  The initial soil phosphorus level was very low.  We added soft rock phosphate, a slow-release form of phosphorus which meets organic standards.

Potassium increased 23% over USDA value.  Initial soil potassium level was very low.  We added a small amount of potassium sulfate to the soil.

Sodium decreased 47% compared to USDA.  Interestingly, sodium was high on the soil analysis.  The value from USDA may come from turnips grown in soils with highly excessive sodium, such as some sections of California.

Zinc showed a nice increase of 110% over USDA.  Zinc was initially low in the soil.  We added zinc sulfate.

Copper had a 51% decrease compared to USDA values.  The initial copper level in the soil was low.  We added a small amount of copper sulfate.

Manganese was 18% higher than USDA.  We did add manganese sulfate to the soil because the initial level was very low.

 

Here is the comparison of the purple/white turnips from the Nutrition Grown treated bed compared to USDA values.  These were grown under the same conditions as the red turnips above, showing a sharp contrast between cultivars.

Discussion:

Protein in this sample showed no difference from USDA value.

Calcium had a 4% increase over USDA value.  The calcium level in the soil was initially very low.  Calcium was added in the forms of calcium silicate and dolomite, due to the needs for silicon and magnesium respectively.

Iron was 7% higher as compared to the USDA value.  The iron was high in the soil.

Magnesium had a 9% increase over USDA value.  The magnesium level in the soil was bolstered by the addition of dolomite.

Phosphorus decreased 25% compared to USDA value.  I’m happy with this, as phosphorus is typically overly supplied in human diets.  Many farmers overuse phosphorus while under using other needed minerals.  The initial soil phosphorus level was very low.  We added soft rock phosphate, a slow-release form of phosphorus which meets organic standards.

Potassium increased 3% over USDA value.  Initial soil potassium level was very low.  We added a small amount of potassium sulfate to the soil.

Sodium decreased 80% compared to USDA.  Interestingly, sodium was high on the soil analysis.  The value from USDA may come from turnips grown in soils with highly excessive sodium, such as some sections of California.

Zinc showed an increase of 6% over USDA.  Zinc was initially low in the soil.  We added zinc sulfate.

Copper had a 57% decrease compared to USDA values.  The initial copper level in the soil was low.  We added a small amount of copper sulfate.

Manganese was 11% lower than USDA.  We did add manganese sulfate to the soil because the initial level was very low.

Overall, the report is not bad compared to USDA values.  The turnips looked beautiful, and had a nice sweet flavor and excellent texture.

Below is a picture of Nubaui holding two of the purple/white turnips, one from each of the Nutrition Grown and control beds (control on right side of picture).  Notice the split in the turnip on the right.  This was probably due to a lack of boron in the control bed.  Soil boron was low.  We added borax to the Nutrition Grown bed.

Summary of Soil Reports for Courtney Zajicek & Nubaui Khentamentiu

The soil was analyzed in January and again in May after harvest.  The initial report showed a need for sulfur, phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium, boron, manganese, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium, and silicon.  This soil was very deficient due to being used for sugar cane production and being located in a high rainfall region (rain leaches minerals from the soil).  A full array of soil amendments was added.  The follow-up soil report showed improvements in 14 of 21 parameters. There is still work to be done to optimize the soil, however the crop results show that we clearly did improve the soil.

Course and Farm Trial Evaluation comments by Courtney—

“Saw less pests and disease issues, and larger yields.”

“Amazing amount of valuable insight and inspiration, truly a course that will impact our farm and developing business in a positive way. I feel that I have gained a really good understanding of the benefits of soil testing and proper application of amendments in relation to the results to increase yield, taste, and nutrition. So stoked to move forward and implements these new skills! Deepest Mahalo.”

Course and Farm Trial Evaluation comments by Nubaui—

“Between the controlled and experimental beds there was a huge difference in seeing how adding the appropriate amendments added higher nutrients.”

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Jana for providing me with her wealth of knowledge and Information. I truly enjoyed having her take the time to share the knowledge of Soil Science. I will continue to further my knowledge and will keep in touch with Jana in learning and applying the Soil Science. To see the change in our 1st initial soil test to seeing the results was very exciting for me. Learning the Soil Science on a molecular level was very insightful.  Much Gratitude and Appreciation. Mahalo”