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7000 Gallons: Watering a Small Organic Farm

By: Steve Frailey Tuesday June 23, 2015 comments Tags: solar energy, organic farming

Organic farming is dependent upon hundreds of natural cycles—large and small. Nutrients, pests, pollinators, sunshine, water, and more come and go, impacting the plants’ ability to grow and produce healthful, nutritious fruits.

Noni in particular is a product of where it was grown. Abundant sunshine, nutrients, pollinators, and water work together to support Noni’s amazing healing properties.

wind solar

We’re lucky enough to be situated on Kauai, where sun, pollinators, and nutrients are available year-round. Water is available year-round too, but it can be difficult to get it in the right place at the right time.

Our farm needs a lot of water—as most farms do. We use about 7000 gallons of water each day to water our Noni trees. So where do we get it?

Irrigation: A Question of Access and Control

The 7000 gallons of water needs to arrive consistently. It also needs to be gradual, rather than all in a rush. And all of it needs to go directly to the trees, rather than spreading out across our land.

The Water Cycle is nature’s way of distributing water on our planet. If you need a refresher on the Water Cycle, check out this image from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

water 

You can see that the main sources of water on land are:

  • Precipitation
  • Stream flow and freshwater storage
  • Ground-water discharge

Precipitation

Hawaiian Organic Noni is located on a part of the island that gets lots of precipitation in the form of rain. The problem is, rain can be hard to predict and control. Since we’re running a business, we need a water source that we can manage.

Stream Flow and Freshwater

We get plenty of runoff from the high grounds of Kauai as it flows to the ocean, but it’s not consistent. We can’t control how much water is available, or where that water goes.

Ground Water Discharge

Water that is trapped underground slowly works its way up through springs, or is pulled out of the earth using wells. Over time, rainwater seeps into the ground to replenish the ground water.

But pumping water out of the ground uses a lot of electricity. It can be expensive and very inefficient.

So how can a small, family-owned farm get access to and control over the water they need?

Access: The Search for a Source

When we arrived on our new land on Kauai in 1982, we had no roads, electricity, water, or buildings. Just lots of Noni trees.

Every farmer faces the costs of electricity and the scarcity of water. We needed a way to consistently irrigate those trees, without spending a lot of money.

We had another important priority as well. Conventional agriculture often uses huge amounts of power to pump and distribute water across their land. The water is usually allowed to run off, which strips valuable topsoil and nutrients away, and causes erosion.

An option that would ruin the land we were going to make our home was no option at all.

Control: Responsible Stewardship

We settled on using solar voltaic pumps to pull water from drilled wells on our land. The solar panels absorb and convert sunlight into energy, which then powers the pumps.

We pull the 7000 gallons of water we need out of the ground and distribute it among our Noni trees. The trees take the water they need, and the rest seeps back down into the water table.

It’s very important for us to collect runoff so the water can seep back into the water table, to be used again later. Many farmers simply drain these underground resources, which take thousands of years to refill.

We think of ourselves as stewards of our land, which means that we have a responsibility to protect, nourish, and preserve the resources of our farmland. This especially includes water.

We re-use water and collect runoff so this resource will continue to feed us and our Noni trees for many years to come.

Sustainability: A Long Future of Healthy Noni Trees

The result is happy, healthy Noni trees. Most Noni trees only produce fruit 10 months out of the year. Ours haven’t stopped producing once in the last 8 years. Happy trees produce healthful Noni fruit, packed with beneficial compounds and enzymes to help the body heal.

In order to bring our family and you, our extended family of customers, nutritious, powerful Noni products, we conserve energy, save money, and preserve this most precious resource—water.

 

Steve Frailey

About the Author: Steve Frailey

My wife and I (Steve Frailey) moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1982 from our organic farm in California. There were no roads, electricity, water or buildings but lots of Noni trees (Morinda Citrifolia) in our valley. We also developed a deep relationship with Noni that was growing all through our valley.  Today we run our Hawaiian Organic Noni farm, and share the gift of health with people throughout the world.