[PAST EVENT] Towards understanding long-term impacts of indigenous agriculture on soils: Hawai`i as a model system

April 22, 2021
outdoors, outside, bricks, cypher, fence

Growing recognition of the tremendous impacts of our modern agricultural system has spurred an interest in understanding the impacts of agriculture on soils and soil health. Indigenous agriculture, which in many cases has been practiced for centuries or millennia on the same land, provides opportunities to understand the long-term impacts and sustainability (or not) of these systems. Hawai`i in particular is an unparalleled system in which to examine these impacts due to the tremendous and highly organized diversity of substrate age, climate, and the resulting ecologies. This talk covers and overview of the intensive Hawaiian rainfed systems and the previous and ongoing work exploring the interactions between soils, agriculture and society over time.

Dr. Noa Kekuewa Lincoln is an Associate Professor in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. He also serves as a faculty member in the interdisciplinary institution of Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific at the University of Hawai`i and he is the Founder and President of M?la Kalu`ulu Cooperative. He conducted his doctoral research at Stanford University in Biogeochemistry and Social Ecology, and he previously held academic positions as an Adjunct Lecturer and a Fellow at the Ngai Tahu Research Center, University of Canterbury in Tribal Resource Economics, and as an Ethnobotany Education Manager at the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden at Bishop Museum. In addition to these academic positions, he also held concurrent positions and developed multiple initiatives in Hawai`i, such as the Integrated Community Development Inc. Dr. Kekuewa Lincoln is an environmental engineer, biogeochemist, and soil scientist by academic training, but orients his research towards interdisciplinary research in archaeology, forest ecology, traditional agricultural management, cultural values and sense of place, and restoration ecology for the broader purpose of studying indigenous cropping systems and human-environmental interaction in Hawai`i and beyond. His research on Kohala field systems on the island of Hawai`i, as part of a broader research agenda in examining and restoring dryland agricultural systems, has resulted in a number of important findings, including his co-authored 2017 paper in Ecology and Society. In that study, Dr. Kekuewa Lincoln and his co-authors found evidence for an increase in yield of sweet potato using a traditional management strategy of rock mulching in experimental fields (m?la) within the ahupua`a (a unit of agricultural production) of Puanui. This paper also focused on the crucial dimension of indigenous and traditional knowledge systems and holders in the restoration process, and the research also evaluated the project by its success at strengthening cultural reconnection among participatory members. He has published widely in journals such as Ecosphere, International Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, Journal of Archaeological Science, Forest Ecology and Management, Ecosystem Services, Horticultural Reviews, and he has a forthcoming book Ko: An Ethnobotanical Guide to Native Hawaiian Sugarcane Varieties. His recently awarded 2020 National Science Foundation CAREER grant (Soil Pedogenesis, Agroecology and their Interactions) is focused on studying the anthropogenesis of soils as a locus of ecological feedbacks for future agricultural strategies over the long-term period of occupational history in Hawai`i as a case study for such niche construction pathways in other contexts.