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Smart Yields & PREL Launch Crop Research Project

November 13, 2018, 1:14 PM HST
* Updated November 13, 1:15 PM
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Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) is working with a Hawai‘i-based agriculture technology company Smart Yields to spearhead a first-of-its-kind crop research and education program on islands throughout the Pacific. It is one of the company’s largest projects to date.

Youth in a PREL gardening program at Jaluit Gardens on Jaluit, an atoll in the Marshall Islands. PREL and Smart Yields will install a
state-of-the-art soil monitoring system and data tower in Jaluit in spring 2019 as part of a new two-year crop and soil project. PC: PREL

Under an $83,000, two-year grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Smart Yields will work with PREL to establish four wireless long-range data-transmitter towers and additional soil sensor networks on Guam; the Republic of the Marshall Islands; and Pohnpei, Kosrae and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. The soil sensors will provide detailed, real-time data so farmers can better respond to changes in climate and soil salinity.

“The data allows growers to immediately shift their practices to yield better results for crops, rather than waiting for an entire growing cycle to see what areas and soil conditions are the most ideal,” said Vincent Kimura, CEO of Smart Yields. “This is particularly important as changes in climate and sea level force us to evaluate what, how and where we grow crops throughout the Pacific.”

It is the first soil data study of its kind on the islands. Over the first year, technologies will be implemented and data collected, and throughout year two, PREL and Smart Yields will conduct follow ups and analyze growing trends. Major partners include the College of the Marshall Islands; Republic of the Marshall Islands Public School System Learning Gardens Program; Pohnpei Department of Education; Kosrae Department of Education; Yap Department of Education; and Guam Department of Education Service Learning and School Garden Programs.

“When we change the compost, we can make dramatic changes in the success of the crop,” said Koh Ming Wei, Ph.D. Ecoliteracy Senior Specialist with PREL, who will be leading the project. “Participants will learn more about soil health factors like pH, soil nutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium, and the soil food web through digital technology and equipment systems tailored to the unique environments of each island.”

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Early success with salt- and heat-tolerant crops include varieties of pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers, among others. The deployment of Smart Yields base towers and soil sensors begins next month in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, with on-the-ground training by Smart Yields and PREL.

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Smart Yields connects farmers, agricultural researchers and their communities through crowd-sourced data gathered from a long-range network of integrated, state-of-the-art sensors that measure everything from soil health to inputs such as water, energy and nutrients. The company’s global expansion includes markets in Europe and Asia, as well as the establishment of Centers of Excellence to encourage farming best practices.

About Smart Yields
Founded in 2015, Smart Yields is a Honolulu-based agriculture technology company that connects farmers, researchers and their communities through real-time analytics gathered from a long-range network of integrated, state-of-the-art sensors. Managed in an easy-to-use mobile app, this
system helps protect crops, optimize operations and increase yields. For more information, go online.

About PREL
Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) is an independent, nonprofit organization with staff in Hawai‘i, American Sāmoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. Throughout the Pacific, PREL collaborates with schools, agencies, and communities to transform schooling and promote dynamic reciprocal learning communities built on strong social and cultural capital. For more information go online.

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