Bulletin Number 7
"Agriculture and Environmental Conservation
Editor. ............................................larice C. Clarke
Editorial Committee......................Dr. D.S. Padda, Larry Bough, Robin Stems
Jointly Sponsored by
The V.I. Department of Economic Development and Agriculture
The University of the Virgin Islands
Cooperative Extension Service. Agricultural Experiment Station
Reprinting ofarticles is permitted as long as the Agriculture and Food Fair bulletin is credited; mention ofproduct
names in this book in no way implies endorsement by the authors or the Agriculture and Food Fair Board of
A Publication of the 22nd Annual Virgin Islands
Agriculture and Food Fair
Bulletin Number 7
Table of Contents
1992-93 Fair Board ofDirectors. .............................. 5
Governor Alexander A. Farrelly's Message ............................... 6
Dr. Orville E. Kean'sMessage ...................................... 7
Commissioner EricE. Dawson'sMessage ..... a s .. ........ ........ 8
Environmental Issues are Central
to UV's Land-Grant Component .................. ............... 9
Dr. Darshan S. Padda
Valuable Management Tool or Waste of Time? ..... .. ... .. .. a ............ 11
Restocking Nassau Groupers in the U.S. Virgin Islands ..... .. ... ... ...... 13
Cullum M. Roberts and Norman J. Quinn
Releafing Paradise ........................................... 16
Improved Vegetable Seedling Production ........................ 18
Working to Secure our Children's Future ..... .... ........ ......... 21
Range Ecology ......................................... 23
Marketing: A Key Sector in the Agriculture Industry
in the U.S. Virgin Islands ***********......********* ..*.... 25
William B. Peter
Raising Turkeys in the Virgin Islands .. . .. . . . .. . 29
Agriculture and the Environment Make Sense and
Renewable Energy is a Common Factor . . . . . . 31
Bevon R Smith Jr.
Sweet Potato: A New Look At An Old Crop *....* ..**...... 33
Stafford M. A. Crossman
Composting: An Appropriate Method of Soil
Conservation for the U. S. Virgin Islands . . . 36
Dr. Manuel C. Palada
The Wasp and the Rubber Tree ................................ 48
Rudy G. O'Reilly Jr.
Getting in Touch with Nature .................................49
Marcia G. Taylor
Physiological Response of Three Sheep Breeds
to Summer Temperatures on St. Croix ... .... ..... ..... ....... 51
Dr. Stephan Wildeus and George Willock Jr.
Ticks in the Virgin Islands .................................. 54
Dr. Duke Deller
1993 Agriculture and Food Fair
Board of Directors
Commissioner Eric E. Dawson
Vice President of Operations
Eric L. Bough
Director of Food Exhibits
Director of Farm Exhibits
Director of Entertainment
Director of UVI Exhibits
Executive Vice President
Dr. Darshan S. Padda
Clarice C. Clarke
Director of Youth Activities
Director of Off-Island Participation
Director of Rules and Awards
Dr. Arthur C. Petersen Jr.
Director of Livestock Exhibits
ALEXANDER A. FA~RRn~
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Agriculture and Food Fair of
the U.S. Virgin Islands. With its long record of fine achievements, there is every
confidence the 1993 Agricultural and Food Fair will be a great success.
For the first time, an invitation to take part was extended to the Dominican
Republic. Their delegation joins veterans from Tortola, St. Kitts, Antigua,
Dominica, St. Eustacia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The fair theme, "Agricultural and Environmental Conservation Make
Sense," points towards a new future of enhanced Caribbean agricultural
development through use of technological advances geared toward making the
industry thrive and increase productivity per unit of land utilized.
In a time when less land is under production and fewer people work in
agriculture, it is gratifying to know that much is being done to augment our
agricultural output and to dampen our reliance on an import-dependent
structure which fosters our consumption of canned foods. As we encourage
investment in the industry, through events like this fair, we can stimulate the
growth of our agricultural sector and make the region a tropical paradise.
On behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, Joan and I extend our very
best wishes and send warm congratulations to the fair participants and
organizers. We laud their efforts to promote our agricultural development and
Message from Dr. Orville Kean
President, University of the Virgin Islands
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 1993 Agriculture and Food Fair.
Please take note of the theme of this year's fair, "Agriculture and
Environmental Conservation Make Sense," as this idea is central to the
University of the Virgin Islands and its relationship to our community.
Agriculture is both a business and a responsibility: farmers must not only
consider the most profitable and efficient way to run their agribusiness, but they
need to consider as well the effect their actions have on the environment and
our scarce natural resources. Both these areas have been the special concern
of UVI, as our researchers research the latest information on varieties and
production techniques and our extensionists pass along that information to
Environmental conservation affects all Virgin Islanders, as well, as
tourism depends on the preservation of the natural splendor of our islands. And
even if no tourist ever graced our shores from this day forward, we owe to
ourselves and our children the promise of clean water, clean air, and a healthy
Please enjoy the fair, and enjoy and learn from the articles contained in this
bulletin. I wish to congratulate the Agriculture and Food Fair Board for another
dedicated effort at providing a meaningful community event for all the people
of the Virgin Islands.
Orville Kean, Ph.D.
The Virgin Islands of the United States
DepsrtantI ofEcn1mec Dewlopment & Agroultuy
P.O.Bo 6400, Charloate Arte, SI.Thoma 004
FAX (09) 7744390
"AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS MAKE SENSE"
The acts of destroying the environment and depending on the same environment to yield
agricultural products are directly contradictory to one another. For many years, the
inhabitants of Planet Earth have taken the environment fop granted by failing to conserve
and to regulate the use of our precious resources. We have injected harmful chemicals into
therivers andstreams around the worldto include the United States, andtoday were paying
the price with certain food items too contaminated for human consumption. Many farms
throughout the world are inundated with pesticides and herbicides which have been proven
to be harmful anddetrimental to humanbeings. The task ofreversingthe harm is tremendous
and perhaps beyond the financial capability of many countries. This then causes food
shortages because it eliminates certain foods from the market for food consumption.
The human suffering in many parts of the African continent today is a direct result of the
lack of environmental conservation of the natural resources. Fertile lands have become
deserts which are unable to yield food for the inhabitants.
We have so much to learn about the subject of conservation of our environmental
resources. We can look at other countries which have squandered their resources, and try
not to emulate such practices. We in the U.S. Virgin Islands possess the skills, knowledge
and determination not to squander our resources, and we must be ever vigilant to avoid the
mistakes of the past.
"Agriculture and Environmental Conservation Make Sense."
My very best wishes to all of the faithful participants and a very supportive community.
Eric E. Dawson, Esq.
Environmental Issues are Central to
UVI'S Land-Grant Component
Dr. Darshan S. Padda
Vice President for Research and Land-Grant Affairs
University of the Virgin Islands
The theme of this year's Agriculture and Food Fair
recognizes the relationships among people, agriculture and
the environment. The same is true of the University of the
Virgin Islands' Land-Grant component, which is dedicating
its efforts to conducting research into the areas of science that
help protect and preserve our fragile natural resources and
then passing that information along to the people ofthe Virgin
In his 1992 book on the future of our planet,
Earth in the Balance (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston), Vice
President Al Gore outlines a world-wide cooperative plan
calling for the increased use of a number of new,
environmentally appropriate agricultural technologies. These
(1) refinements in irrigation technology that reduce water
consumption while increasing yields,
(2) low-input crop management to reduce soil erosion,
(3) advances in plant genetics to introduce natural resistance
to diseases andpredatorswhilereducingpesticideandherbicide
(4) new discoveries in aquaculture and fishing techniques to
offer alternatives to destructive practices, and
(5) more sophisticated techniques of food distribution to
reduce costs and losses during distribution, especially among
less developed nations (p. 322).
The Vice President also decries the steady loss of genetic
diversity in a number of important food crops around the
world, noting that every plant and animal on our planet fights
offextinctionthrough the genetic abilityto respondto changes
in its environment. He adds that The United Nations
International Board for Plant Genetic Resources lists the most
at-risk fruits and vegetables, including avocado, cassava,
coconut, mango, okra, pepper, sorghum, sugarcane, sweet
potato, tomato and yam (p. 137).
The University of the Virgin Islands Agricultural
Experiment Station is already actively responding to these
global needs, by the following:
(1) conducting studies into the responses of various crops to
water-conserving irrigation systems,
(2) testing many varieties of fruits and vegetables, including
most of those on the United Nations "at-risk" list, for their
viability in semi-arid climates around the world,
(3) seeking and studying plant varieties that are naturally
disease- and insect-resistant, for example strains of papaya
that are naturally resistant to the extremely damaging effects
ofpapayadeclinedisease, whichthreatened the Virgin Islands
responsible source of protein through aquaculture,
(5) fighting erosion and species loss through reforestation,
(6) improving the quality of feed available to local animal
(7) improving the animals themselves, to the benefit of all
The UVI Cooperative Extension Service has also
responded to these needs, by the following:
(1) promoting environmental responsibility and awareness to
(2) emphasizing natural resources,
(3) teaching safe and limited use of pesticides while offering
natural alternatives whenever possible, including the use of
Integrated Pest Management to provide a multi-discipline
approach to plant protection,
(4) producing publications like "The Leatherback Turtle"
and "Virgin Islands Birdlife," which teach Virgin Islanders
about rare and endangered local species, and
(5) passing along the research results of AES experiments
conducted at UVI and at other similar institutions to the
CES staff have made a particular effort to encourage the
increased use of drip irrigation among Virgin Islands home
gardeners and farmers, as a way to conserve precious water
supplies while increasing yields. The CES urban gardening
program assists consumers improve the quality andvariety of
their diet through growing their own vegetable gardens in
limited spaces, while providing significant savings over
imported, store-bought produce.
Finally, through its CES home economics program, F -. *
which emphasizes the relationship between nutrition and
health, and through the component's active involvement in
the Caribbean Food Crops Society, UVI Land-Grant has
already made a priority of promoting a better food source for ra
the people of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. ,
We are a small group, and our work is just 20 years old.
But we are committed to a vision of the future, committed to ~ .B
collaboration, and committed to excellence. We promise to
redouble our efforts to improve the lives of Virgin Islanders
and make our beautiful island home a paradise our future
generations can inherit with pride.
UVI Land-Grant Programs Providing
J \ Tj Educational Information at the 1992 Fair
Valuable Management Tool or Waste of Time?
UVI Cooperative Extension Service
No one likes to do recordkeeping. It involves a lot of by thieves or torn out if they get caught in fences or brush.
time, effort and paper to do a proper job. Why, then, do Permanent forms of ID include tattooing of ears, lip or
good farmers spend so much time at it instead of spending skin, computer chip implants under the skin, ear notching,
their time fixing fences or building a new barn? or, in larger animals, branding (either hot or freeze).
The bottom line in good recordkeeping is more dollar These types of identification cannot be lost or removed and
income for the farmer. By proper management of the farm remain with the animal for life.
livestock records, a farmer can insure that he has only Good recordkeeping does not require fancy equipment
healthy, productive stock in his herd and,therefore.is or a college education. It also does not require a computer
producing to his utmost capacity, or a large investment of money. Good recordkeeping does
For example, a cattle farmer needs to know that all of require either a 3-ring binder with loose leaf, file card
his cows arebred. Cows that don't getbred for long periods box,(loose-leafpaper or file cards) pen, pencil, and a desire
of time don't produce as many calves over their lifetime as to better manage your livestock herd. Each animal in the
cows that get bred every year. Also, if a cow hasn't been herd should have its own page in the binder (or card in the
pregnant in three years, all she is doing is eating feed (and box). This page should contain the animal's unique
money) without giving anything in return, number (and name), the date of birth of the individual, the
The same situation applies to the sheep, goat, or swine parents' identification numbers, and the records of the
producer. For the "hobby farmer" this isn't important, veterinary expenses and production or performance of that
butmost seriousfarmersfeelthat a returnontheir investment animal. That page belongs only to that animal, is placed
is very important. in the binder at the time of the animal's birth and remains
Another reason to keep good records is to monitor the with the binder until that animal is removed from the herd.
health of the stock. Good recordkeeping allows the farm At that time, the page is removed from the binder. In
manager to keep track of vaccinations and medications addition, this binder or a "companion" binder can be used
given to the animals. This not only prevents the sale and/ to hold the income and expenditures of the farm (livestock
or consumption of animals that may still have drugs in sales, feed purchases, vet bills, etc.). This allows the
their systems, but also lets the manager know which farmer to have his entire current herd records in his hand
animals get sick often and need to be culled from the herd. at any given time. By knowing what he has and how much
In addition, these records assist the farmer in keeping it is costing him to have it, the farmer can then
track oftheveterinary expenses required by the animals. maximize his profits.
In order to keep accurate records. livestock should For more information on
be clearly, and preferably permanently, identified / recordkeeping, contact me at
with their own unique number. For obvious UVI Extension Service
reasons, you can't keep good records on "76" if/ 'UV, (778-0246).
there are three 76's inyour herd. Identification 1 IV, (77 "-
can be accomplished through several different// G
means. The most common forms of / A,
identification in all types of livestock are
eartags or necktags (necklaces). They ;'. 7 ,
come in many different styles, colors. 1 -
and sizes and are very easy to attach to. ,
the animal. These are not a
permanent form of identification, /4^ -r ,',
however, as they can be removed ,
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2746 Chouteau Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63103
Restocking Nassau Groupers in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Callum M. Roberts and Norman J. Quinn
University of the Virgin Islands Eastern Caribbean Center
Decline of a Fine Food Fish
Fishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands was very different
forty years ago. Fishermen tell stories of fabulous quantities
offishbeing landed with considerably less effort than people
put into catching fish today. This is especially true where
the Nassau grouper is concerned. Nassau groupers once
formed the biggest part of the catch in Puerto Rico. By 1980
they had dropped to fourth place, and now there are so few
caught that they hardly figure in catches at all. The picture
is just as bleak in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Why Nassau Grouper?
Although the Nassau grouper is not the only species to
have suffered serious declines in the Virgin Islands over the
past few decades, it has been hit the hardest. What has
marked this species for the spectacular drop in numbers?
Nassau groupers have been called the lions or tigers of the
reef. They arevoracious predators, feeding opportunistically
on smaller fishes and shellfish. This also makes them easy
to catch with hook and line and baited traps. Other fishes
from the grouper family, like the Red Hind, share this
characteristic, yet are still comparatively common. The
Nassau grouper differs in one important respect: its breeding
Once a year, around the time of the full moon in
January, Nassau groupers gather at a few special sites
(known as spawning aggregations) to reproduce. Perhaps
tens of thousands of fish would gather at each site to breed
in one of the most amazing spectacles in nature. Fishes will
travel many miles to reach these sites and some, carrying
tags, have been recorded to swim over sixty miles.
It didn't take amateur or professional fishermen, long
to realise that on these spawning aggregations lay a feast for
The temptation to make fast money from Nassau groupers
proved too great to resist. During the spawning season,
aggregation sites would be literally strip-mined. While
boats ferried catches to the shore others took their place to
fill another set of traps in a constant shuttle lasting the
duration of the season. Many fish would be wasted when
catches saturated the market. Joe LaPlace, a well-known St.
Thomas fisherman, recalls how with such an abundance of
fish people just couldn't believe that they would ever run
Cleaning out a spawning aggregation means much
more than simply fishing the small area of the aggregation
site itself. It means removing most of the Nassau groupers
from reefs. In simple terms it is a highly efficient way of
catching a fish: much too efficient. It didn't take many years
before catches began to fall, then to plummet. Although
other groupers also spawn in aggregations, none has a short
a breeding season or such specific sites. Consequently,
fishermen have not been able to catch them so easily.
However, all of these fishes are now beginning to show
alarming declines, and if we are not careful they may follow
the fate of the Nassau grouper.
Halting the Disappearance
Lawmakers act to protect fish stocks after collecting
enough information to see what is the best management
plan. Sometimes this is slower than ideal. By the time laws
had been passed to protect spawning aggregation sites (in
1985), the Nassau grouper had almost become history in the
U.S. Virgin Islands. This sorry state of affairs is not unique
to the territory. The once common Nassau grouper has
become rare throughout much of the eastern Caribbean and
Bermuda. Even in areas which have been less heavily
fished, such as Belize, their spawning aggregations have
Faced with this problem people began to wonder what
they could do. As this fish were so well-liked for theirs flesh,
growing them in captivity, aquaculture, seemed like a good
move. The Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) of the
University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix initiated studies
on the fish in the Cayman Islands as part of a technical
assistance project. According to Dr. James Rakocy, AES
Associate Director, the grouper project was to become part
of a sea farm park, a mariculture research and education
center. However, Hurricane Hugo and subsequent difficulties
sidelined the project.
From the very beginning, attempts to grow the groupers
from eggs and to restock local populations by releasing large
numbers of juvenile fish into the sea were the main objective.
The aquaculture project was taken up by Dr John
Tucker of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in
Florida. He succeeded in raising fish from eggs collected in
the Cayman Islands in 1990. Having shown that the groupers
could be raised in captivity, the next step was to test whether
they could survive in the wild.
Originally it was hoped that a small number of fish
could be released in the Buck Island National Park in St.
Croix with the collaboration of the Virgin Islands Division
ofFish and Wildlife. However, bureaucratic red tape prevented
this and the project was bounced across to the Eastern
Caribbean Center of the University of the Virgin Islands in
St Thomas. With financial support from the University of
Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program, andHarbor Branch,
and the encouragement of the Department of Planning and
Natural Resources, the project was approved. Twenty nine
fish weighing 1-3 pounds and measuring 12-15 inches were
to be flown from Florida to St. Thomas for release at Saba
To prepare fish for the transition from captivity to the
wild, John Tucker had been putting them through a "training
program" for six months. They had been moved from a diet
of pelleted food to live fish, shrimp and crabs, and their
reflexes had been sharpened by being chased around their
tank by people splashing the surface.
In St. Thomas, we had been preparing for their arrival.
Expecting that the 17-hour journey from Florida would be
very stressful we constructed a large underwater cage with
the help of local fisherman David Berry.
The fish arrived early in September and were whisked
from airport to sea within an hour. In the cage they were
offered a variety of food daily until they began to feed
normally. Two weeks after arrival, 27 fish were released
from the cage to begin independent life (two had died), the
first time that hatchery-reared Nassau groupers have been
released into the sea anywhere in the world.
Arrival ofgroupers from Miami.
Within hours of release wewere delighted to see that the
fish had all found shelter under rocks or ledges and were
being cleaned by cleaning gobies. What was most remarkable
was that they had never encountered these gobies before but
were allowing them into their mouths and gills just like wild
fish would. Over the following week the fish were watched
closely as they learned to live on the open reef. One fish was
even seen following an octopus while it was hunting, a
behavior common in wild groupers which takes advantage
of prey being disturbed by the octopus.
Since their release, movements of the fish have been
followed closely. Each carries a numbered orange tag close
to the dorsal fin allowing us to identify them. Every few
weeks the reef around the point of release is searched with
the help of students of the UVI MacLean Marine Science
Center. Remarkably, many of the fish appear to have settled
in to life on this reef, allowing us to monitor their survival.
Nevertheless, within a week one was reported from Buck
Island seven miles away.
Divers transferred the groupers to the underwater cage at
If releasing Nassau groupers is going to be a
successful way of restocking depleted populations, we need
to know whether they are able to survive in the wild
and whether they will breed when they become sexually
mature. At present the fish we released probably have
another couple of years before reaching maturity. The
release of 27 fish is not in itself going to restore
Nassau groupers around the U.S. Virgin Islands.
However, we hope that this pilot study will tell us
whether large-scale releases of thousands of juvenile
fishes have any chance of success.
The sea is large and to be successful in following
the fate of these fish we are seeking the help of
fishermen and the general public. Please let us know
if you see a tagged Nassau grouper, and please let it go
if you have caught one (call us at 779- 6103). We need
this information to tell how far the fish are moving and
how long they live.
Dr. LaVerneRagster, Director of theEastern Caribbean
Center, stresses that while this project is exploring the
possibility of lending a helping hand to the beleaguered
Nassau grouper, such technical fixes should not be seen as
a substitute for sound management of marine life. Recovery
of wild populations through careful stewardship probably
remains the best chance for this and other species in the
waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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St. Croix Environmental Association
The St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) runs a
program called V.I. ReLeaf. which is the territorial coordina-
tor for Global ReLeaf. Global ReLeaf is an international
organization devoted to the reforestation of our planet and.
likewise, V.I. ReLeaf is dedicated to the reforestation of our
V.I. ReLeaf was formed in the aftermath of Hurricane
Hugo, a reaction to the massive loss of trees we incurred. A
number of caring individuals donated money to SEA with the
message: "Please help do something about the loss of trees."
The first project V.I. ReLeaf undertook was a public
education campaign to let people know why it is so important
that together we replant the islands. As we all know, trees
provide much-needed shade, they beautify our yards and
neighborhoods, help purify the air we breath in converting
carbon dioxide to oxygen, and provide habitat for wildlife.
There are a myriad of other benefits provided by trees
including the edible treats they produce.
Tree distributions were the next phase in the V.I. ReLeaf
program. In conjunction with Cruzan Gardens and Grange
Hill Nursery, trees were made available to all religious
organizations at a discounted price. Together with St. George
Botannical Gardens, V.I. ReLeaf gave away agave plants.
In early 1990, SEA was contacted by the U.S. District
Court to see if we could provide community service work for
people in lieu of their serving jail time. Thus began V.I.
ReLeafs most ambitious program--building greenhouses at
public schools. With the broad-based support of the local
business community, a V.I. government grant and a great deal
of community service and volunteer manhours, V.I. ReLeaf
met its goal of building four greenhouses and has gone on to
begin construction of two more with plans to build yet another
Those schools with completed greenhouses include Cen-
tral, Woodson, Ricardo Richards and Alexander Henderson.
With the exception of Henderson, planting activities are
underway. The greenhouses are, of course, property of the
school and can be used how they see fit, but V.I. ReLeaf
encourages the propagation of trees of all kinds and schools
have been very amenable to this idea. Greenhouses will be
located at Elena Christian, Alfredo Andrews, Evelyn Willliams
and possibly Pearl B. Larson.
One of the major stumbling blocks incurred by V.I.
ReLeaf in this project was a source of water which is needed
in large quantities by fledgling plants. Also, unless schools
already have an agriculture program, it is difficult for them to
incorporate planting projects into the curriculum. These
problems are being overcome thanks to a grant from the Anti-
Litter and Beautification Commission. Funds have been
provided for water buffaloes and for a part-time greenhouse
coordinator who works with teachers and administrators at
each site to help them make the most of and grow the most in
One emphasis is making and using compost. Acompost
bin is built at each greenhouse and school cafeterias are
encouraged to separate vegetable and fruit scraps, excellent
ingredients of compost. In this way. less "garbage" will end
up in the landfill and valuable nutrients will be returned to
Mother Earth in the form of organic hummus.
Another project undertaken by V.I. ReLeaf was the
planting ofa "Model Site" with funding provided by Global
RcLeaf and Aveda Corporation. Applications were solicited
from neighborhood associations which were required to help
plant and care for the trees. Grant monies were used to
purchase trees, topsoil and stakes.
Calquohoun was the neighborhood selected as the
Model Site and residents turned out en masse, complete
with two backhoes and a watering rig. to plant 25 15-foot
mahogany, cedar, black olive and other trees. The next
time you are on Midland Road in Calquohoun take note of
the beautiful and healthy young trees growing around the
bus shanties. V.I. ReLeaf has applied for funds to plant
another "Model Site" -- look for notices in the paper and
on TV. Your neighborhood could be the recipient of trees.
Last but not least, an innovative project taken on by
V.I. ReLeaf in cooperation with St. Croix Dairy Products
was the printing of the V.I. ReLeaf logo on 1/2-gallon milk
cartons with a message urging people to use the carton as a
containerinwhich tostart a treeseedling. This servedthe dual
purpose ofencouraging people to think in terms of reusing an
item rather than immediately throwing it awayand gave them
incentive to start seedlings. SEA requested that people bring
us their empty cartons for use in the greenhouses and the
response was overwhelming --an indication that people
are very eager to recycle and willing to help in reforestation
When your thoughts next turn to planting, consider
planting trees in addition to vegetables and ornamentals.
Drought resistant species will thrive on the east end and just
about any tree will thrive in our rainforest. Plant trees for
yourself, the planet and future generations.
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Improved Vegetable Seedling Production
V.I. Department of Economic Development and Agriculture
Seedlings produced under greenhouse conditions
Anyone who has tried to grow vegetables in his or her
backyard or garden knows that water is the main limiting
factor in vegetable production. Since most of us depend on
rainfall for crop irrigation, it is imperative that vegetable
growers start off with strong, healthy seedlings that will
withstand dry conditions until water is available.
Thus, in an effort to assist and encourage farmers and
gardeners to increase production, the Division of Agriculture
has moved to improve and increase seedling production to
meet the needs of the farming community. To accomplish
this, the division has shifted to a new and more efficient
method of seedling production. The mortality rate of
transplants has declined drastically, and farmers are very
In the old system of seedling production, seeds were
sown directly on the ground on raised beds without initial
shade. This system had many problems as the seedlings
were more susceptible to soil disease such as "damping
off," insect damage and trampling by heavy rains. Most
significantly, however, is that these seedlings had to be
pulled or dug from the soil, which meant a farmer could get
over 25 seedlings in a clump of soil the size of the palm of
his hand. Upon time of transplanting, the seedlings had to
be separated individually. This resulted in damaged roots
and in seedlings with little or no soil attached to their roots.
These bare-rooted seedlings undergo shock when planted,
which, if severe enough, may result in poor establishment
and growth, delayed and uneven maturity, and a reduction
in yield, even if water is immediately available. However,
if no water is available at time of planting, the majority of
seedlings will perish within hours.
Clumps of seedlings taken from the ground.
With the new system of vegetable seedling production,
seedlings are grown in a shaded greenhouse in styrofoam
trays, each in its individual slot or square. Trays consisting
of 72 or 128 squares are filled with a soilless media and
placed on racks. The irrigation/fertilization system consists
of a pressure tank, fertilizer tank, a timer and solenoid
valves which allow for automatic irrigation. As seedlings
are needed, they are pulled from their individual square
with roots and rooting medium intact. At planting, the
seedlings are placed in the ground with their own clump of
soil and may survive up to three days without water. Their
roots are not disturbed, resulting in healthier, more quickly-
established plants, and a more uniform crop.
This new system has been well received by farmers
and gardeners who frequent the agriculture station to
purchase seedlings even during dry periods. The success of
this method of seedling production has caused department
officials to consider building another greenhouse to meet
the increasing demand for vegetable seedlings. With the
implementation of the University of the Virgin Islands
Extension Service Urban Gardening Program, the
increasing demand for seedlings and the need for more
vegetable production, such an addition is highly justified
Seedlings produced outdoors.
A---l %-l ---
Seedlings in their individual cube or soil from tray in greenhouse.
The largest Distributer of Veterinary Pharmeceutical Products
in the Caribbean.
P.O. Box 190836
San Juan P.R. 00919 0836
Telephone (809) 765-7660 Fax (809) 767-3072
Working to Secure our Children's Future
St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA)
Many people by now have heard of the St. Croix
Environmental Association (SEA), but a lot do not know
exactly what the organization is all about. First and
foremost, it is about preserving the natural beauty and
biological diversity of our wonderful island for enjoyment
and use now and for generations to come.
SEA is a non-profit, primarily volunteer organization,
which means the majority of our support, both financial
and labor, comes from our membership. Anyone can be
a member simply by filling out a form and paying annual
dues. Membership entitles you to attend our many field
trips, movies and lectures free, a discount in our shop, and
a bi-monthly newsletter. It is important to note that SEA
is not a government organization.
SEA is a chapter of the Virgin Islands Conservation
Society and has a sister chapter the Environmental
Association of St. Thomas/St. John (EAST). The St.
Croix chapter emerged as a separate entity in 1986 in
response to the proliferation of developments then being
proposed for this island.
Some people feel SEA is anti-development; in fact, the
organization supports planned development which takes
into consideration, among other things, the environmental
integrity of our surroundings. SEA firmly believes that
people should and must learn to coexist--to share the earth
and the island--with other living things.
Developments SEA has opposed are those which are
planned for sites of the island that have been designated
by the V.I. government as "Areas of Particular Concern/
Areas for Preservation or Restoration" or "Significant
Natural Areas." Scientific studies have been conducted
and it has been determined that these areas, such as Salt
River, Jack's Bay, and Southgate Pond, are extremely
environmentally sensitive. Yet, no steps have been taken
to assure their preservation.
Aside from its important conservation work, SEA has
been very active in education. The current emphasis is on
teacher training workshops with the goal being to empower
teachers with local environmental knowledge they can
take back to their classrooms. The workshops are taught
on location atvarious ecosystemsof the island in the hopes
that teachers will conduct field trips to these special places
with their classes. SEA also maintains a video, periodical
and newspaper archive library to aid in research projects.
SEA has also made major strides in recycling efforts
facilitating the island-wide voluntary aluminum can
collections. This action team also reached hundreds of
school children with its anti-litter message using a video
and the Litter Critter to spread the word.
The territory coordinator of Global ReLeaf is
dedicated to the replanting of trees on the islands.
V.I. ReLeafwas formed in reaction to the devastation
Hugo wreaked to our trees, and projects have included
public education of the importance of trees, tree
distributions and the planting ofa "Model Site." Through
the joint efforts of the Calquohoun neighbors and SEA
volunteers, 25 fifteen-foot trees were planted to beautify
and provide more shade for the area, which serves as a
Model Site to inspire other neighborhoods to plant trees.
SEA hopes to plant another Model Site in the near future
- look for announcements to involve your neighborhood.
Another ambitious program of SEA is V.I. Releaf. (See
If you would like to get involved in the efforts to
conserve the beauty and bounty which nature has
provided, and which is disappearing before our eyes,
please call SEA at 773-1989. Everybody's help is needed
--your help is needed.
contn' it ,"
Svo unteenI ,
Look around and you'll find Vitelco people
and resources at work, helping to improve our community in countless ways
MNRG ANDS i tElPHON CORPORTIO
Making a positive connection throughout the community
Extension Specialist-Natural Resources
UVI Cooperative Extension Service
In order for Virgin Islands livestock farmers to have
good productive rangeland for animal production, they
must understand range ecology, or how plants interact
with animals, soil, climate and the physical environment.
Most Virgin Islands pasturelands are overgrazed because
of the lack of understanding of range ecology. To increase
forage production on Virgin Islands pastureland, livestock
farmers must know something about their range plants and
how they function in the environment.
Plant Succession on Pastureland
The process of plant succession on pastureland in the
Virgin Islands is influenced by rainfall, soil type, climate
and how different plant species replace each another. For
example, most Virgin Islands pastureland is dominated by
guinea grass (Panicum maximum). But when the pastures
are overgrazedby livestock, hurricane grass (Bothriochloa
pertusa), is a undesirable grass for animals, takes over the
pasture along with other weed pests.
Succession results from a change in habitat and
invasion of new plant species. Change of pastureland or
habitat results in a change of plant cover adapted to the
area. Change in habitat reaction sometimes results from
the action of range plants upon the soil and microclimate.
Thus, succession may be either natural or induced.
However, for livestock farmers to manage their pasture
properly, they have to know when to rotate their animals
in order to maintain a good stand of grass. In rangeland
management, pastures are judged by plants called
increasesrs" "decreases" and "invaders."
Plants that grow well in pastures with moderate grazing
and favorable weather conditions are called increases. For
example, guinea grass is an increase once there is not much
grazing pressure on the grass by animals. However, as
grazing pressure increases or as range condition reaches
fair condition, these species will decline. Therefore, local
livestock farmers have to rotate livestock when necessary to
have a continuous supply of forage.
Decreases are the plants that result when range plants
or grasses are grazed too close to the soil so that livestock
may end up feeding on undesirable plants. Grasses that
decline because of too much grazing pressure by animals
are examples. Continued heavy grazing on pastures
without rotating animals deteriorates the rangeland. As
grazing continues the land approaches a barren state, as
with so many pastures in the Virgin Islands.
Invaders are species that encroach onto pastureland
because the desirable species are grazed out by livestock.
An undesirable plant such as Casha (Acacia spp.), which
dominates most of the Virgin Islands pasturelands is a
good example of poor pasture management.
Plant Ecology in Relation to Soil
Soil is another factor in range ecology management.
Soil is a product of the action of climate and vegetation
upon parent materials. Improper grazing influences the
soils' ability to support plants. Many pasture soils in the
Virgin Islands are lost by the washing and blowing of rain
and wind because there is little vegetation to protect the
As soil becomes less abundant and increasingly
compacted with misuse of the land, decreased water
infiltration and increased runoff are inevitable. As
vegetations are removed, erosion becomes a major problem
for local farmers. The way to protect soil is to prevent the
pasture from being overgrazed.
Climate Impact on Pastureland
Range ecosystems are dynamic and changing
continuously. Thus, it is important for farmers to understand
thesechanges and whichones influence management decisions.
Climate has a major influence on plant growth in the Virgin
Islands. The topography and soil type determine species
adaptation to the area. Because rainfall is not distributed
evenly throughout the islands, the growth pattern of range
plant is not the same in all areas.
For example, the southeast and eastern sides of St.
Croix do not get much rain annually. In these regions,
farmers have to manage their pastures according to the
environmental condition. On the northern side of the
island, however, the rainfall is much higher. So farming
management practices are some what different.
The Influence of Animals on the Physical
Animals have a major impact on the physical environment
and the plant communities with which they are associated, and
as a result can affect range improvement activities in diverse
ways. In the Virgin Islands, some pasturelands are on flat
lands while others might be rolling hills and still others are
on steep slopes.
Depending on the activity of the animals, these impacts
can be beneficial.detrimental.or both. Animals such as goats
or cattle influence ecosystem processes such as nutrient and
water cycling that are basic requirements for plant growth and
development. Successional patterns also affect animals
behavior by regulating competition, development and
productivity among individualplant speciesandcommunities
Without control there can be no management. The four
basic areas of control in range ecology are:
1. Control of space or how much area is to be
grazed. This is done withfences, either permanent
2. Controloftime. Howlongtheareaistobegrazed
3. Control ofnumbers, or how many animals are to
be placed in the area to be grazed.
4. Control of the animal. The farmer must be able to
place the animal where and when he wants, for as
long as he wants. If island livestock farmers
considered all the factorsthat influence range ecology
such as rainfall, grazing pattern, soil type, land
topography, climate and the physical environment,
then they should be able to have a productive pasture
where forage will always be available for animal
production. Thus, the key to understanding range
ecology is the manipulation of vegetation and soil by
controlling grazing animal patterns.
Four-Pasture Merrill System
-- r, -
Marketing: A Key Sector in the Agriculture Industry in the U. S.
William B. Peter
Agricultural Marketing Specialist
Department of Economic Development and Agriculture
Bureau of Economic Research
Agriculture industry isan important sector ofthe economy
of the Virgin Islands. It absorbs a large portion of the
population in production agriculture, marketingofagricultural
products, and other agriculture related activities such as
disease and pest control, forestry and soil conservation. The
1987 Census ofAgriculturebythe V.I. DepartmentofEconomic
Development and Agriculture indicated that the total number
of farm workers was 660, with 454 people employed on St.
Croix and 206 on St. Thomas and St. John combined (V.I.
Bureau of Economic Research, 1991).
Small-scale farming characterizes the U.S. Virgin Islands'
agricultural industry. Most farmers have one or two acres of
land under cultivation each agricultural season. The primary
inputs to production agriculture are land, labor, feeds, seeds,
tools such as the long-handle hoe, the rake, the machete, and
sometimes farm machinery and agricultural chemicals
(pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer).
Thefood crops usually grown by farmers include tomatoes,
okra, mangoes, avocadoes, coconuts, cucumbers, peppers,
pumpkins, tannia, green banana, eggplants, cabbage, papaya
and limes. These crops, along with many others, are traded
through the farm-gate, the roadside markets, the grocery
stores, and sometimes the government-supported farmers'
In general, traditional patterns of activities that quite
often result in low output dominate the production of food in
the Virgin Islands. Output levels actually achieved, however,
depend on factors that are often beyond the control of the
individual farmer and greatly influence hisproduction and his
incentives. The shortage of rainfall, the soil high pH content,
high temperatures and strong winds are some examples.
These observations are within the same ballpark as those
reported by Troy and Robert in 1974, and by Padda in 1992.
Current characteristics of the agricultural industry clearly
show that several factors contribute to the low economic status
of the small farm operators in the Virgin Islands. Therefore,
there is no single solution to limited resource farm problems
in the territory. In helping farmers overcome their difficulties,
however, efforts are usually centered around the rate at which
they are performing in their production practices. Although
progress has been made in certain production categories such
as the hydroponic vegetable production in a circulating fish
culture, farmers still cannot market their outputs efficiently,
because oflack ofgood supportive infrastructures and technical
knowledge in making elementary marketing decisions.
Before specialty crops can be used to increase the net
income of limited resource farmers, effective ways of reaching
the consumer have to be worked out: roadside markets or
farmers' markets have to be organized (Copp, 1984). Answers
to questions relative to the kinds of marketing information
available to small farm operators in different locations, and the
benefits and limitations of alternative marketing systems such
as direct marketing and farmers' markets, must also be found
(Surendra, 1984). Untilproduction technologiesand marketing
techniques are transferred to and used by farmers and
agribusinesses in the Virgin Islands, no real advance can
occur (Padda, 1987). Based upon these premises, if more
effective strategies for agricultural development are to be
designed, it will also be essential to examine in depth the
Characteristics Of The Current
Marketing System For Locally Grown
Fruits And Vegetables
Though local commercial agriculture has evolved over
many centuries, the system of marketing locally grown fresh
products is still traditional. Most independent vendors and
farmers usually sell fruits and vegetables along the centerline
roads, or around populated areas such as the shopping centers.
In these market outlets, products are very often exposed to the
sun which accelerates their decay thus reducing shelf life.
Grades and standards are self-imposed, not legislated by law
as they are in the U.S. mainland. Prices of commodities are
frequently determined by bargaining, which can be time
consuming. The overwhelming majority of farmers grow
highly perishable commodities such as tomatoes, pumpkins,
bell peppers, okra, papayas, avocadoes, mangoes, cucumbers
and leafy greens. Poor handling and lack of adequate storage
facilities for these crops, mainly during the glut period, bring
about tremendous wasted produce in the territory, and the
results are spoilage or deterioration. All these market conditions
are supply-restrictive; therefore, they do not guarantee
Although many conditions which characterize a good
marketing performance are lacking, some basic necessary
conditions to exist. For instance, there are many buyers and
sellers, an easy entry to the marketing profession, and a regular
flow of products from the farm to the consumers in the market
Despite the difficulties confronting them in their
production processes, Virgin Islands farmers love their
profession. They have demonstrated, especially during the
annual Agriculture and Food Fairs, that they can grow more
and good quality products. Most of them have expressed their
willingness to expand their farming operations, but only under
improved marketing conditions. In fact, unless producers
have confidence that prices will bear some minimum
relationship to costs, they will always hesitate to take further
steps to increase production or improve quality. There is no
point in encouraging small farmers to undertake new crops,
unless there is a marketing component in the package
(Toensmeyer and German, 1982). This implies that if full
advantage is to be taken of favorable production opportunities
in the territory, improved facilities and organization for
marketing are required. A Development Strategy For The
Agriculture in general, and marketing agricultural
products in particular, cannot progress without good supportive
infrastructures. In order to make the system of marketing
domestic cash crops efficient and more attractive to the people
of the Virgin Islands, the following initiatives are highly
a) Construction of a central open market on the islands
of St. Croix and St. Thomas. respectively, for all roadside
vendorin including farmers. Such an action will not only help
prevent car accidents due to reckless driving, ease data
collection for future marketing studies, but also allow the
Department of Economic Development and Agriculture to
take regulatory measures to ensure and monitor quality
standards, in order to protect consumers and enhance the net
income of farmers from their farming operations. More
importantly, dissemination of agricultural information by the
U.V.I. Cooperative Extension Service will be more effective
than it has been in the past, because other market intermediary
groups, besides the local farmers, would also like to be
involved in the educational programs for agricultural
Undertaking a similar step on the island of St. John will
not be feasible at this moment, because a limited number of
farmers are currently growing very small quantities of
b) Construction of a bulletin board at each government-
supported marketing building to announce the monthly
average prices of the major agricultural products and other
important market information. Such an action will help
farmers price their commodities more efficiently and increase
their bargaining power with consumers.
c) construction of low-cost storage facilities to prevent
products from deterioration. When these are in place, more
fruits and vegetables will be available year round, and prices
will be stabilized at a level benefiting both farmers and
Meanwhile, sun drying, which is an easy traditional
method of preserving crops, can be used for products such
as mangoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, hot peppers, okra
and herbs to prevent spoilage. Information on this
preservation technique of food crops is available in most
East Caribbean countries.
Of course, these initiatives require education and training
of individuals. The role of education in attracting youth to
agricultural careers is of great importance. Providing
introductory courses in the major agricultural fields of studies
at the high school level, as well as the expansion of the
agriculture curriculum at the university level, are of primary
importance. These actions should, in the long-run, provide
skilled manpower resources for agriculture's labor needs( V.I.
Bureau of Economic Research, 1991). In the meantime,
hands-on training in post-harvest food handling, processing
and marketing for farmers and other market participants who
render necessary services for commercial agriculture is crucial.
Common criticism oflocal agriculture is that production
is not diversified enough to support the market. This criticism
does not seem to be consistent with the reality, in that
marketing of agricultural products is very diversified in the
territory. A large number of food crops are produced
domestically, and a variety of products that best meet local
demand and changing tastes are also brought in from the U. S.
mainland and from nearby islands. The major constraint to
marketing locally grown agricultural products is the lack of
organization and capital, coupled with conservatism on the
part of the majority of farmers in starting medium-scale
farming systems to bring their outputs up.
The need to increase the level of food crop production
in the U.S. Virgin Islands is obvious, given its fast growing
population, the great demand for locally grown products,
and the high cost of imported commodities. In changing
the physical production pattern, however, an effective
organization will be necessary to bridge the gap between
the farmers and the consumers, because cash returns to a
producer depend to a large extent on his or her crops reaching
a consumer in the market place. Expandable small farm
operators must also be willing to organize into cooperatives,
considering their limited resources. A farmer cooperative is a
business organization, owned and controlled by its members
who have come together voluntarily to provide themselves
with needed supplies and services in order to improve their
economic well-being. By working as a unite, Virgin Islands'
farmers will accomplish something they could have never
done individually. Not only will they be able to purchase better
production supplies and grow more foods, they will also
improve their bargaining abilities. Although building farmer
cooperatives is not easy, it can be done. It takes only
leadership, dedication, training, mutual trust and the realization
by farmers that their investment is essential for the success of
In light of the attention being given to the small farm
problem, and the lack of efficient market for domestic cash
crops, marketing of agricultural products must be considered
co-equal in importance to production agriculture in the U.S.
Virgin Islands. Its importance should be reflected in increased
allocation of resources for its study, development, incentive
programs and promotion. But allocating more resources for
the development of agriculture industry in general, and
marketing in particular, will be meaningless without total
involvement or support from the agricultural agencies and
institutions in the territory. The V.I. Division of Agriculture,
the U.V.I. Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural
Experiment Station, especially, have a great challenge to work
cooperatively if they are going to master the interaction
between production and marketing which controls the future
of local farmers. Through cooperation, they will be able to
readjust their conceptualization of problems and programs in
terms of new parameters, and better the economic welfare of
1. Padda, D. S., 1992. "U.V.I. Land-Grant
Programs... Helping Virgin Islanders to Cope
With Change." V.I. Agriculture and Food
Fair, Bulletin No.6.
2. Padda, D. S., 1987."Complexities of
Agricultural Development in the Caribbean."
V.I. Agriculture and Food Fair, Bulletin No.2.
3. Copp, J. H., 1984. "The Contribution of Family,
Production,and Marketing to the Survival of
Small Farmers." Strategy for Survival of Small
Tuskegee University, Alabama, Human
4. Singh, Surendra P., 1984. "Farm Managementand
Small Farm Agriculture: An Analysis of Credit
Needs." Strategy for Survival of Small
Farmers.. International Implications,
Tuskegee University, Alabama, Human
5. Mullins, Troy & Robert W. Bohall, 1974. Fruits
and Vegetables: Production and Consumption
Potentials and Marketing Problem in the U.S.
Virgin Islands. University of the Virgin Islands
Agricultural Experiment Station Report No.2.
6. Toensmeyer, Ulrich C., and Carl L. German,
1982. "Marketing for small farmers- A question
of limited alternatives." in James H.
Copp: The Contribution Of Family, Production,
and Marketing to the Survival of Small Farmers,
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
7. U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research,
1991. United States Virgin Islands Economic
Development Programs, Strategic Planning
Choose or Lose!
For further information call:
The V.I. Commission on Status and Federal Relations
773-5711 777 4807
__ ___ 0
Raising Turkeys in the Virgin Islands
Extension Livestock Specialist
UVI Cooperative Extension Service
Anyone who has had the pleasure of eating a
homegrown turkey will agree with me that they taste better
than the ones we buy from the supermarket during
Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Homegrown turkeys are juicier and firmer and do not
contain any additives. The only disadvantage of raising
your own turkeys for the holidays is that you have to spend
some time feeding and taking care of them and processing
Young turkeys are called poults, and they mature into
hens and toms. There are one breed and seven varieties of
turkeys. The varieties normally recommended for home
production are the large Broad Breasted Bronze and the
Broad Breasted Large White.
There is a great difference in body size in turkeys.
During much of their growth period the females normally
weigh approximately three-quarters what the males do.
Females mature at slightly under one-half of the males'
weight at 36 weeks of age. However, it may not be
necessary to keep the turkeys to maturity. If fed well, the
hens could finish out, and weigh about 19 pounds live, at
20 weeks of age. The toms finish slower and would take
24 weeks to weigh 28 pounds.
If you plan to have your turkeys ready to kill for the
holidays, April is the ideal time to start ordering your
poults. Baby turkeys can utilize the same equipment
(feeders, waterers and brooders) as chickens, although
some basic differences do exist. Poults are almost blind for
the first few days and, therefore, require objects like bright
marbles in the feed and water dishes to attract them.
Another difference is they are very friendly and have
extreme curiosity. Tap the feeder or waterer to get their
attention, and they will come immediately. This curiosity
also leads them to pick at strings or holes on feed sacks or
brooder curtains, with the result that some may hang
themselves. They love to jump into things; therefore, do
not leave a bucket half full of water or some will drown.
Turkeys also frighten easily. Sudden noises or flashing
lights will cause them to fly or pile against the side of the
pen, damaging themselves. Other times, they just move
out in the rain until drenchedand exhausted by hypothermia.
A small outside building with a floor will do fine.
Even a partition across the back of your garage will do.
You can construct this simple house with old lumber
around the yard or remodel an existing structure. The
basic consideration should be to provide a clean, dry, well-
ventilated area free from drafts. The house should protect
the birds from weather and be screened to exclude wild
birds and predators, especially dogs, rats, and mongooses.
Please remember turkeys should not be raised in the same
pen with other poultry because they can become infected
by chickens with diseases like black head or sinusitis. For
purposes of illustration, an 8 foot x 8 foot utility house will
house ten turkeys adequately.
Although the temperature on our islands is adequate
for raising turkeys outdoors, poults require additional heat
for the first two weeks when they arrive.
Poults may be brooded under a dependable heat source
as long as they are safe from fire. An infra-red lamp or a
small lightbulb (60-75 watts) is satisfactory.
First, clean the area and equipment before the poults
arrive. Wash with a good disinfectant like bleach. Screen
the windows and doors against predators. Ventilate freely.
Shield direct sun from the poults because they could
Prepare a circular brooding area bordered by cardboard
approximately 16 inches high. Cover the area with 1/8
inch of dry sand. This will reduce early litter eating and
provide secure footing.
Starting The Poults
Adjust the hanging heat lamp 18 inches from the floor
in the center of the ring. Comfortable poults will bed down
evenly spaced throughout the area. Raise or lower the lamp
for temperature control. The temperature should be 90-
920Ftaken two inches above the floor. Dropthe temperature
5-7F each week. Discontinue the heat after the third
week. Allow 1.5 to 2 square foot of floor space per poult
for the first 6 weeks of age, 2-3 square foot from 6-10 weeks
and 6 sq. ft. for maturity. Do not overcrowd or allow wet
spots to exist in the pen. Start the poults with one or more
quart jar water founts. Switch to a larger 3-5 gallon
waterer during the third week. Litter can also be added
during the second week. Coarse dry shaving or chopped
straw are excellent. Keep water founts clean by placing on
Because of their early rapid growth, for the first six
weeks, turkeys require a turkey or game bird starter feed,
which has 28-32 percent protein. Chick starter feed is not
adequate for new poults. Place the food as needed, in a flat
egg tray or any small one-inch deep box top. At two weeks
switch to a hanging tube feeder. One tube feeder will take
care of 20 birds. Raise feeders to level of birds' back and
adjust feed level to avoid waste. Allow enough room so all
may eat at once.
After the first six weeks you can feed turkey growing
mash or even chick starter feed containing 22 percent
protein. At 12 weeks of age, you can add cracked corn to
the growing mash to reduce the protein level and increase
For the small turkey flock owner, health depends to a
great extent upon sanitation and avoidance of other birds.
Wash the waterer and supply clean water daily. Avoid use
of moldy feed or litter.
Turkeys love mowed green pasture and do well on a
range when given protected (roofed) roosting areas,
providing predators are kept out. Fresh grass clippings
and garden greens such as lettuce and cabbage may be
given daily. Do not let excess greens remain to become
Because of nutrition and disease interrelationships,
poults often develop leg deformities for which there is
seldom a cure. However, as they mature, they do outgrow
these problems and become quite hardy.
For more information on raising your own turkeys or
other exotic birds, please feel free to contact me at UVI
Extension Service (778-0246).
Agriculture and the Environment Make Sense
Renewable Energy is a Common Factor
Bevon R. Smith Jr.
Virgin Islands Energy Office
The Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO) has long
recognized the interrelationship between Energy,
Agriculture, and the Environment. In 1988, VIEO was
successful in establishing the Territory's Agriculture
Energy Assistance program measure. The main features
of this program measure are to conduct workshops that
educate farmers on applicable energy-efficient farming
techniques and technologies, to fund small demonstration
projects utilizing the same technologies and to establish
an integrated-energy farm system at the Department of
Economic Development and Agriculture (EDA).
The VIEO in cooperation with the University of the
Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service/
Agricultural Experiment Station (CES/AES) and the
Department ofEDA have identified some energy efficient
techniques and/or renewable energy technologies that
have a great potential for improving the Agricultural
sector. These will in turn improve the quality of air and
life for the people ofthe V.I. Some of the technologies are
as follows: drip irrigation with photovoltaic (pv)/wind
water pumping systems, solar crop drying, biofuels
(methane gas, methanol, gasohol, and ethanol), energy
efficient greenhouses, alternative electricity generators,
solar Distillation, and hydroponics.
The first water and energy conservation technology
taught to the farmers was using drip irrigation with pv/
wind water pumping. Local irrigation specialist and pv/
wind manufacturers were on hand to discuss the various
types of irrigation systems, of which the drip system was
highly recommended in most cases. In addition, farmers
had the opportunity to witness the advantages of three
types of solar-powered systems: wind generators, wind
water pumpers and photovoltaic array.
According to the engineers at the Photovoltaic System
Design Assistance Center, at the Sandia National
Laboratories, the pv-powered systems that are installed
all over the world demonstrate higher reliability and
lower costs than the alternative methods in a large class
of applications. PV-powered pumps are particularly
useful for intermediate applications like remote villages
and perfect for livestock watering and/or crop irrigation.
The idea is that when the sun is hottest, crop and livestock
water demands increase, and the pv powered pump
operates at a greater efficiency.
Many people wonder why the pv-power technology is
not more widely used since it requires only adequate
sunshine and a source of water. The VIEO believe that
pv (as well as other renewable energy technology) is
limited only because pv power is a fairly new technology
and many potential users are simply unfamiliar with it. It
was on this premise that we structured the Farmers'
Energy Conservation Demonstration (FECD) project,
where farmers can obtain Department of Energy (DOE)
funds to demonstrate to the rest of the community how
sensible and cost effective it is to incorporate renewable
energy into agriculture and maintain a clean environment.
Presently, V.I. residents can become familiar with
four different types of pv- powered water pumping
systems that are being demonstrated at nine farm sites
throughout the three islands. There is a direct solar
system (no batteries), three mobile surface DC pumps
with a battery storage only, two submersible AC pumps
with inverter and batteries, and three systems that feature
submersible AC pumps with an inverter, a battery bank
and storage tanks. These water pumping systems are
modular and are matched closely to each farmers' need.
They require low maintenance and recurrent costs, and
have a relatively reliable, long life. The obvious
disadvantages are the high capital costs and lower output
in cloudy weather. However, remember that water needs
on local farms are lower during periods of cloudy weather.
For more information about the technical features of the
systems, arrange for a site visit, by registering at the
VIEO Ag Fair display booth.
Another aspect of Solar Energy that farmers and the
public need to re-familiarize themselves with is wind
Yes, the sun causes the cool tradewinds that are so
frequent in our islands. Wind is the result of the constant
movement of high air temperature over lower air
temperatures. Harnessing wind power is not a new idea,
butdesign and technology of wind machines have changed
from the old-style water pumping windmills.
Unfortunately, none of our local farmers were convinced
enough to try demonstrating any of the various types of
electricity generating wind turbines, but three veterans
opted to demonstrate the old mechanical water pumping
windmills. These three wind systems are also available
for the general public awareness. The use of these pv/
wind systems will save V.I. farmers an estimated $200,000
per year and give them reliable power for irrigation.
The FECD project has offered an alternative to the
energy intensive means of drying crops and/or meats.
Drying is effectively removing moisture from a material
to a level that it can be stored for extensive periods
without deterioration. Farmers were introduced to the
basic drying principles, the preparation of products and
the various types and application of solar dryers.
The present stage includes building inexpensive
solar crop dryers for farmers who participated in the
educational workshop. This workshop series demonstrates
how incorporating renewable energy techniques can
make agricultural and environmental sense.
In the near future, VIEO in cooperation with UVI-
CES/AES and Dept. of EDA will continue to offer
workshops and small demonstration projects in the area
of Biofuels. It is anticipated that experts will share the
latest technological update in the areas of biomass to
methanol and ethanol. Methanol, or "wood alcohol," is
a colorless, odorless, toxic liquid. It is an alternative fuel
that can be produced from domestic resources, both fossil
fuel and renewable. It is commonly used as a feedstock
for producing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), an
octane-enhancing gasoline additive. It can also be used
as a gasoline substitute or in a blend with gasoline, most
commonly as M85 (85% methanol, 15% gasoline). On
the other hand, there is ethanol which is similar to
methanol but is a potentially clean-burning fuel that
reduces air pollution problems such as smog and carbon
monoxide. Ethanol feedstock can be developed from
cellulosic biomass herbaceous and woody plants,
agricultural and forests residues and municipal solid
The areas for demonstration projects were enhanced
with the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments
which were the first major overhaul of the nation's clean
air legislation. This will have significant impact on
agricultural mandates as they relate to "clean fuels" and
"oxygenated fuels." Using alternative fuels can be an
economic boost for the agricultural sector and, at the
same time, can have a positive impact on the air we
These amendments took a giant step forward with the
passage of the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. In
addition to containing provisions that encourage
competition in the way electricity is generated and sold,
this new law consists of provisions to encourage the
development and use of clean burning alternative fuels
and research development on a host of exciting new
energy technologies--including advanced clean coal,
natural gas, renewables and conservation.
New age farmers are seriously considering expanding
their income by becoming more self-sufficient. The
exposure to the advantages and disadvantages of methane,
propane and liquefied petroleum gas will better equip
them with pertinent decision-making information. The
FECD project is also prepared to enlighten farmers on
solar cooling techniques for tropical greenhouses, and
solar electricity generators for recycling tilapia fish
culture wastes to fertilizer for hydroponics farming.
The above mentioned technologies can be
demonstrated only by a few farmers at a time. However,
the VIEO Agriculture Energy Assistance program is
working on setting up an integrated-energy-farm-system
(IEFS) at the Dept. of EDA where all the renewable
energy technologies can be integrated. This will be an
ultimate goal, enabling the support agency for agriculture
development services to demonstrate to the fanning
community self-sufficiency, while simultaneously
providing energy-efficient and clean agricultural services.
Doesn't this make great sense/cents?
Sweet Potato: A New Look at an Old Crop
Stafford M. A. Crossman
UVI-Agricultural Experiment Station
A crop that originated in central or north-western South
America, sweet potato has been cultivated since about 3000
B.C. It was one the first crops introduced into Europe after
Columbus landed in the Caribbean. However, despite its
ability to adapt to a wide range of tropical conditions while
producing adequate yields, it still remains an under-rated
Sweet potato is an important food crop in tropical areas
because the storage roots provide high quality staple food
calories. Human consumption is one of the most important
uses of sweet potatoes, and they are consumed either as fresh
or processed products. They can be prepared fresh by either
boiling, frying, baking or roasting.
Sweet potatoes are a good source ofcarbohydrates, which
generally make up 25-30% of the fresh weight and 80-90% of
the dry weight of most cultivars. Ninety-eight percent of this
carbohydrate is easily digestible. Firmness, dryness and
mouthfeel are largely determined by the composition and
properties of the carbohydrates.
Sweet potato contains between 16-40% dry matter, 20%
starch, and 5% simple sugars. They are a good source of
calcium, iron and other minerals. They are also an excellent
source of vitamins, particularly vitamin A in the orange-
fleshed cultivars, and vitamins B and C.
The most abundant vitamins from a human standpoint
are beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) and ascorbic acid (vitamin
C, 20-50 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh weight). Beta-
carotene is the major pigment of the orange-fleshed cultivars.
It is a good source of Vitamin B (thiamin), which is present
in adequate quantities, if the crop is consumed as a staple.
The protein of sweet potato has a good biological value,
but its contribution to overall nutrition has been overlooked
until recently. Protein content in sweet potato roots ranges
from 1.7-23 percent on a dryweight basis (4.4 5.2 percentfor
most varieties) and is quite evenly distributed throughout the
root. Tryptophan and sulfur amino acids are limited in sweet
potato, while others such as methionine and lysine are in
excess. Sweet potato protein can be used to supplement other
plant proteins. Flesh color is important to protein content: the
more intense the color, the higher theprotein content Protein
content is directly proportional to yield, as protein content
does notdecrease asyield increases. Largevarietal differences
exist in sweet potatoes for protein content which also varies
with applied nitrogen levels.
There has recently been a strong upsurge of interest in the
dietary fiber components of plant foods. This is due to studies
that have implied that increased dietary fiber may reduce the
incidence of a variety of diseases such as colonic cancer,
diabetes, certain kinds of heart disease and a variety of
digestive disorders. Sweet potatoesare potentially significant
source of dietary fiber. Inclusion of sweet potato in the diet of
V.I. residents can help to meet their dietary fiber requirements
with all the other health benefits associated with increased
fiber in the diet.
The nutritional qualities of sweet potato should be of great
interest to vegetarians or others who do not consume much
meat. Sweet potato can become an important component of
such diets. Not only are sweet potato roots rich in nutrients,
but the leaves of tender shoots are richer than the roots, in
protein, vitamins and minerals. Sweet potato leaves can serve
as an important source of vegetable fiber and food. Sweet
potato shoots are nutritionally superior to many other leafy
vegetables including cabbage, lettuce, watercress and
amaranths. They are also superior to spinach, except for
vitamins A and C. Sweet potato tops have been found to
contain total nutrients equivalent to beef or pork. Protein in
sweet potato leaves is 12.1 25 percent depending upon
variety. Most varieties have 19.5 20.5 percent protein.
Leaves and young shoots are edible and may be prepared in a
manner similar to greens, eaten boiled, or used in soups and
stews. In some countries sweet potatoes are grown primarily
for the shoots rather than storage roots.
Sweet potato is avery versatile and valuable crop, with its
edible roots and shoots. These factors have resulted in the
selection of sweet potato as a potential crop for use in manned
space missions and the space station. The crop will be grown
and consumed in space.
Sweet potato can be used in a diversity of simply prepared
food dishes. It is easy to handle, stores well, can be used in
many ways and is highly nutritious. It can also be processed
into flour, starch, noodles, chips, candy, yogurt, ice cream,
jellies and syrup.
Non-sweet cultivars have the potential for multi-purpose
uses similar to those of the white potato. There are many food
recipes in which these cultivars can be substituted for white
potato, which is important because we can increase the
consumption of locally produced sweet potato while reducing
our dependence on imported white potatoes. Nutritionally
sweet potato is equal to or exceeds white potato in the amounts
ofminerals, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus,
vitamins and energy per unit weight.
Sweet potato can have a great future as a dietary staple in
the Virgin Islands. Locally adapted cultivars can easily be
propagated from abundant foliage and produced throughout
the year. Sweet potatoes can tolerate infertile soils and other
tropical stresses while producing good yields. Crop residues
of sweet potato are a very useful animal feed, as all parts of the
sweet potato plant can be utilized for this purpose.
In the Virgin Islands, as in most other tropical areas,
sweetpotatoes are not given priority forintensive management
practices. The crop is usually planted in the dry season, when
it is not feasible to grow vegetable crops. It is usually grown
withoutapplied fertilized and isonly weededwhen infestations
are severe. UVI-AES research has demonstrated that sweet
potatoes do respond to increased levelsof inputs and technology.
Factors affecting sweet potato production over which we
have thepotential toexert substantial control are soil nutrition,
moisture level and germplasm selection.
Ideally, sweet potatoes require loose friable soil in which
to grow. The crop is more tolerant than most other tropical
crops to a wide variety of edaphic and climatic conditions.
However, the soil in the Virgin Islands can cause some stress
conditions for plant growth high soil pH, phosphorous and
micronutrient deficiencies, heavy soilsand low annual rainfall
(a deficit in 10 of 12 months annually). These factors most
certainly can reduce yield; therefore steps need to be taken in
order to modify or rectify these conditions. Yields can be
substantially increased if plant nutrition, water requirement
and germplasm selection are given adequate attention. The
soil should be friable enough to permit unimpeded root
enlargement and have sufficient aeration porosity to provide
oxygen to developing roots. Mounds or ridges results in better
yields partly attributed to better drainage, aeration and
physical resistance of the soil for lateral expansion of storage
roots. Storage roots displace theirvolume equivalent of soil by
deforming the adjacent soil. Inadequate land preparation of
heavy soils can cause an elevated physical resistance of the
surrounding soil which will result in reduced yields with
distorted storage roots.
Selection of appropriate germplasm is vital because
locallyadapted high-yieldingcultivars can reduce the need for
additional inputs. Cultivar traits can reduce production
practices and, thus, production costs. Cultivars can compensate
for climate or modify cultural treatments. Drought resistance
modifies irrigation needs; insect resistance changes pest
control procedures; and high vigor is a factor in weed control.
The nature of the growth of sweet potato makes it an ideal
crop for food security in areas predisposed to tropical storms.
If a storm occurs after the plants have started producing
storage roots, even if the above-ground parts of the plants are
destroyed the storage roots will be safe below the ground, to
provide food and planting materials.
Sweet potato is considered to be a drought-tolerant crop
because it is quite deep-rooted, and fairly good yields have
been obtained under low-moisture conditions. Despite this.
irrigation experiments clearly demonstrate that yields can be
significantly increased by irrigation in areas like the Virgin
Islands, where rainfall distribution is erratic or insufficient.
If sufficient moisture is supplied for the plant to become
well established, it will be better able to use reserve moisture
under dry conditions later in the season. Water-logged soil
during the growing season and shortly before harvest may
result in loss of storage roots due to rotting in the soil.
A sweet potato crop provides good protection against soil
erosion, except immediately after harvesting on sloping areas
which leaves the land in an eroded condition.
Recommended cultivars occupy the land for only 3 4
months. This allows farmers to plant and harvest more than
one crop of sweet potatoes per year. The farmer also has ample
time to produce one or two more short growing crops during
theyear if so desired. Intercropping with compatible crops can
also offer advantages. This is of particular importance for
The level of culture for sweet potato is relatively simple
and the crop can be easily produced on areas of land varying
in size from a backyard plot to large acreages.
The stem, which is the propagating material, is useful as
feed but not as food and thus the principal edible portion is not
sacrificed when a new crop is planted.
For maximum growth sweet potato should be terminal
vinecuttings 30cm long, from well-nourishedactively growing
two-three month old plants. Cuttings should be stored under
damp, well-aerated conditions for one-two days. They should
be planted in the field without excessive exposure to the sun
or drying out and buried up to two-thirds their length in soil.
Water and adequate aeration are also particularly important
during the establishment of the cutting.
Someone once referred to sweet potato as "a tiresome
crop for everyday." This is definitely not a true reference,
because there are so many sweet potato cultivars available for
producers and consumers to choose from. Sweet potatoes are
available to meet all personal preferences, and consumers can
choose based upon skin color, flesh color, degree of sweetness,
firmness, dryness, mouthfeel and other nutritional
Sweet potato cultivar types can be grouped into category
Dessert type orange-fleshed, moist mouthfeel,
and very sweet (mainly U.S. cultivars, where they
are referred to as 'yams.')
-Tropical type white- to yellow-fleshed, low to
high sweetness, with intermediate to dry mouthfeel.
Staple type white-fleshed, non-sweet (low sugar),
high starch, bland taste, suitable for everyday use.
Industrial type high-yielding with very coarse
texture and other characteristics which makes
them suitable for animal feed or other industrial
uses, including starch and alcohol production.
With such a large variety of nutritious sweet potatoes
available for so many uses, isn't it time that we all take a
new look at producing and using this old crop ?
Vingin Islands Alumina Corporation
P.O. Box 1525, Kingshill, St. Croix,
2alaL~ky 012L -
9La[ty f rtodaa
Composting: An Appropriate Method of Soil Conservation
for the U.S. Virgin Islands
Manuel C. Palada, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
UVI-Agricultural Experiment Station
What is Compost?
improve its fertility.
In broadest terms, composting is the biological
reduction oforganic wastes to humus. Any organic waste
in the form of dead plant or animal tissues and waste
products from metabolism is subject to decomposition by
soil microorganisms and other soil fauna. The final
product of this breakdown process is a stable compost
material, also known as humus.
The use of compost has been recorded in the history
of civilization as early as the Akkadian Empire, which
flourished in the Mesopotamian Valley a thousand years
before Moses was born. Compost was also known to the
Romans, the Greeks had a word for it, and so did the tribes
In the traditional method pioneered by Sir Albert
Howard, the raw materials are gathered into a pile and so
managed as to generate enough heat to reach an initial
temperature somewhat between 60 and 70oC. At this
temperature rapid breakdown of organic residues occurs,
and weed seeds and parasites are destroyed. The pile is
turned one or more times to introduce additional oxygen
and to bring undecomposed litter from the outside to the
Figure 1 is an illustration of the composting process
and demonstrates the importance of oxygen and moisture.
The various nutritive elements, such as proteins, amino
acids, lipids and carbohydrates, are assimilated easily
and broken down by the microorganisms. They mainly
serve to produce energy (which raises the temperature)
and after undergoing various degradation processes are
finally reduced to carbon dioxide and water, whereas
cellulose,lignin and ashes (the mineral fraction) contribute
to the humus production. Obviously, the microorganisms
play an important part of these processes. They appear
during decay of the organic matter, take part in its
conversion and contribute in the build-up of humus
through their own subsequent decomposition.
Today, composting is practiced by many home
gardeners and vegetable growers as well as large-scale
farmers. The main objectives ofcomposting are to recycle
the organic waste, bring it to a form that can be used for
enriching the organic matter content of the soil and
Compost Improves Soil Structure
Compost can correct a soil that is either too sandy or
too clayey, thus helping to build good structure and a good
environment for plant growth. Soils which have been
chemically treated with little or no addition of organic
matter will gradually lose structure, requiring increased
fertilization, cultivation, and irrigation.
A heavy clay soil with low organic matter content
tends to become waterlogged quickly, preventing water
and air penetration. Adding compost helps to loosen this
packed soil by opening up pore spaces that carry air and
water down into the soil. Sandy soils which tend to let
water drain away too rapidly are also rebuilt by the
addition of compost. The fine particles are united into
larger ones that can hold greater quantities of water.
Compost Controls Soil Erosion
A soil lacking good crumb structure is susceptible to
erosion. Erosion is often the end result of a gradual loss
of soil fertility. Compost helps to build the good crumb
structure that encourages optimum fertility and resists
erosion. Incorporation of organic materials into the soil
in the form of compost is a sound land management
practice that leads to good soil conservation.
Compost Improves Soil Aeration
Aeration is extremely important to soil health. Air
plays a vital role in the maintenance of soil productivity.
Without air, soils tend to become alkaline, organic matter
decreases, active humus becomes deactivated, total and
active humus content decreases, nitrogen content is
reduced, and the carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio is lowered.
The presence of sufficient air in the soil is necessary for
the transformation of minerals to forms usable by plants.
Many of the processes in the soil are oxidative, such
as when sulfur is transformed to sulfur dioxide, carbon to
carbon dioxide, and ammonia to nitrate. Oxygen is
essential in these processes and air is an urgent need of the
many beneficial soil organisms that aid in these
transformations. In addition, aeration helps the formation
of mycorrhiza, a fungus that acts in partnership with the
roots of a plant to feed with soluble nutrients. Compost
helps to build soil structure that will allow the optimum
aeration at all times.
Compost Provides Soil Nutrients
Compost is a good source of soil nutrients,and serves
as a vehicle for carrying nutrients to soil and plants.
Naturally occurring nutrients in compost are released
slowly at a rate at which the plants can use them most
profitably for optimum growth.
For organic farmers and home gardeners who are
more concerned of their soil health and environment,
compost is one of the best alternatives to chemical
fertilizers. The use of compost can also reduce the
dependence on chemical fertilizers.
Factors Essential for effective Composting
Several conditions are important for proper composting
to takeplace. These factors are C:N ratio, moisture,
aeration, and temperature.
1. Appropriate carbon: nitrogen ratio. The materials
to be composted should have an appropriate C:N ratio
from 20:1 to 30:1. With a higher ratio (more carbon) the
composting process takes place more slowly. With a
lower ratio there is increased chance of loss of nitrogen to
the atmosphere. In practice, this means using a blend of
high carbon materials such as leaves, straw or sawdust
(these materials are often called "bulking materials,")
and high nitrogen materials such as livestock manure,
sewage sludge, processing wastes or fresh vegetative
2. Optimum moisture content. Moisture content
between 40 and 60% should be maintained. If the
material is too dry, the lack of moisture will slow
microbiological activity and the compost pile will not
heat up properly. A compost pile with excessive moisture
content will not stack in windows properly and will have
insufficient oxygen for the microbes. In addition, too
much water in the pile may cause soluble forms of
nitrogen or other nutrients to leach from the compost.
3. Proper aeration. The microbes which break down the
organic materials in the composting process require
oxygen, so proper aeration is critical. If the compost pile
has insufficient air resulting in anaerobic conditions, the
decomposition process is slowed and odors may occur.
Aeration of compost is achieved by physically stirring or
turning the pile periodically, forcing air through the pile
with fans, or placing tubes into the pile. Aeration of
compost pile is also dependent on the particle size of the
organic residues going into the pile.
4. Proper temperature. Compost must be able to achieve
and maintain proper heat to speed biological activity and
to help kill weed seeds and plant pathogens. Although the
composting process produces considerable heat, retaining
it can be difficult during cool weather. Similarly, in the
summer an actively decomposing compost pile may
develop enough heat to encourage loss of nitrogen as
ammonia gas. Thus the overall size and shape of the
compost pile is important in regulating the temperature.
Generally, smaller piles do not heat up faster than bigger
piles. A compost thermometer or other temperature
monitoring equipment is necessary to ensure that proper
heating is occurring.
Materials for Composting. In the Virgin Islands there
are various forms of organic materials available for
composting. These materials range from household
garbage to farm and garden wastes. Almost any organic
material can be composted if the proper C:N ratio,
moisture content, and aeration can be maintained. The
most economically advantageous composting operation
takes advantage of materials that are readily available at
The cities are an excellent source of compostable
materials such as yard wastes and sewage sludge. Raw
material processing enterprises such as food industries,
lumber mills and paper mills also generate compostable
nutrient-rich materials. Composting at this level will
eventually reduce waste disposal problems, minimize
pollution and improve the environment. In selecting
materials to compost, attention should be given to their
C:N ratio. High nitrogen materials are usually more
difficult to obtain than high carbon materials. Livestock
manure is the most commonly used high nitrogen material
on farms, although sewage sludge, paunch manure and
processing wastes are also commonly used. In some
cases, a farm without livestock may find it worthwhile to
grow vegetative crops to compost for use as a fertilizer
and soil amendment on high-value perennial crops.
Common Methods of Preparing Compost
Methods of preparing compost can vary from simple,
small-scale backyard composting to a more complex and
sophisticated high technology involved in a large-scale
commercial composting operation. An appropriate method
will depend on the volume of composting materials,
availability of labor and environmental conditions. In the
Virgin Islands where there is shortage of farm labor,
medium to large scale composting operations may require
mechanization. However, for small-scale farmers and
home gardeners, composting can be performed using
manual labor with small, but efficient hand tools.
The common methods utilized in composting are: 1)
stack method, 2) pit method, 3) window composting, 4)
static pile composting and 5) vessel composting. The first
two methods are most appropriate for small-scale farmers
and home gardeners, while the other methods are
appropriate for large, farm-scale composting.
1. Stack method This technique involves the preparation
of compost above the ground. It is perhaps the easiest and
most suitable during the rainy season in the tropics, and
it saves labor during the building, turning and handling
of compost. However, it may be in-convenient when
making small quantities of compost, since decomposition
may be poor. Where there is no inner cover, hygienic
conditions become a problem. During dry weather, a
large quantity of water may be required to replace what
is lost by evaporation from the stack.
2. Pit method This technique is most appropriate in the
dry season in arid to semi-arid regions like the Virgin
Islands where water availability is a problem. Its
advantages are that it does not permit excessive moisture
loss, and, where organic matter is of kitchen origin or
animal waste, it is a more hygienic method, as these
wastes are buried so that they do not become a breeding
ground for house flies. However, labor costs in digging
the pit and handling and turning of mature compost are
Dangers of poor decomposition from water-logging
also exist. A pit with dimensions of at least 3 meters wide,
8.5 meters long and 60 cm deep is dug into the soil. Areas
with a high water table should be avoided, and pit depth
should not exceed 60 cm or aeration will be adversely
affected. For ease of compost handling, the pit should
have slanted edges. Usually, pits are dug adjacent to each
other so that transferring compost during the turning
operation is easy.
3. Windrow composting This method is most commonly
used on farms, as it best takes advantage of machinery and
other resources already available to the farmer. In the
window method, compostable materials are piled in
rows from 2 to 3 meters wide and 1 to 2 meters high.
Building the pile is frequently done with a front-end
An alternative method utilizes a PTO (power take off)
driven manure spreader. The window is typically stirred
2 to 6 times over several months. Stirring provides
aeration, brings the cooler outer material into the hot
center of the piles, and redistributes the moisture and
mixes the materials. Stirring can be accomplished with
a front-end loader, a manure spreader or a machine built
specifically for turning compost.
4. Static pile composting This method makes more
efficient use of available land and seems best suited to
composting large quantities of uniform materials. A
static pile is not stirred once it is built, and aeration and
cooling are provided by forcing air through the pile with
fans. This method is frequently used to compost sewage
sludge or processing water.
5. Vessel composting This is the most capital intensive
method as it requires a concrete structure to hold the
composting materials. This method may use both stirring
and forced aeration. Vessel composting seems to have the
greatest advantage when composted material must be
dried to a low moisture content suitable for bagging, in
that it allows for greater control over product quality.
Regardless of which method is used, some of the
materials to be composted may require shredding or some
form of particle size reduction. Hay tub grinders, hay bale
choppers and wood chippers are often used on the farm.
Other equipment is available commercially for the job of
shredding and/or chipping materials. Good resources
include Biocycle magazine, Organic Gardening magazine
and home gardening catalogs.
Levels of Composting for the Virgin Islands
Composting operation in the Virgin Islands can be
accomplished at three levels: 1) home garden, 2) farm
and 3) industrial.
1. Home garden Composting at home garden level is
simple and easy to undertake since it involves small
volume of organic materials. Both the stack and the pit
methods are appropriate for preparing compost in home
gardens. The choice will depend on the season when
compost is prepared. Ifthe composting is initiated during
the rainy season, the stack method is preferable. In the dry
season, when available water is limited, the pit method
would be most appropriate.
Materials for composting in home gardens may include
yard waste, plant residues, grass clippings, newspapers,
hay, weeds, animal manure and compostable kitchen
garbage. In using these materials, a correct balance of
carbon and nitrogen should be maintained.
2. On-farm composting The efficient utilization of
organic farm wastes can save Virgin Islands farmers
hundreds or thousands of dollars in fertilizer costs and at
the same time reduce energy consumption as well as
improving soil fertility. Today, composting at farm level
is becoming popular with many farmers in the mainland
U.S. It can be also adapted in the Virgin Islands. In a
typical farm operation, organic wastes are produced on a
continuous basis. These wastes consist of crop residues
and/or livestock manure depending on the type of farm
Depending on farm size and the amount of organic
waste, various methods of composting mentioned
previously can be utilized. A farmer can start a small-
scale operation using simple composting equipment he
already owns and later expand to a larger scale when
he has capital to invest in bigger equipment.
3. Composting of industrial wastes The growing
population and expansion of industries in the Virgin
Islands continue to intensify the problems of urban and
industrial waste disposal. The best solution will be one
that satisfies all sanitary requirements, does the job
economically, and provides a useful end product.
In the Virgin Islands the widely used methods of
garbage disposal are landfill and dumping. These methods
have disadvantages. Drawbacks to the sanitary landfill
include the frequent necessity for long distance hauls to
suitable sites, scarcity of suitable sites in heavily populated
areas, the limited future use of fill sites and lack of
available cover material. Dumping has the obvious
disadvantage of health and fire hazards.
Composting has clear advantage over landfill and
dumping. First, it converts urban and industrial wastes
into a usable end product. Secondly, compared with the
sanitary landfill method, a carefully located compost
plant would reduce hauling costs. Third, a well-designed
compost plant can handle dewatered sewage solids,
especially if mixed with ground refuse, and fourth,
composting principles used for garbage and trash disposal
also apply to any industrial wastes, so that municipal
plant could be used for the combined disposal of these
Of course, another basic advantage to composting is
the fact that use of compost by gardeners and farmers
would increase tremendously,partly aiding in the
conservation of soils in the Virgin Islands. Now is the
time for Virgin Islanders to consider composting at all
levels and realize the benefits to soil and environment.
1. Cosico, W.C. 1985. Organic Fertilizers: Their
Nature, Properties and Use. Farming Systems and
Soil Resources Institute, University of the
Philippines at Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.
2. Lukens, J., D.S. Doel and C. Rugen. 1991. Farm-
scale Composting Information Package.
Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas
(ATTRA), Fayetteville, AR.
3. Minnich, J. and M. Hunt. 1979. The Rodale Guide
to Composting. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.
4. Ngeze, P.B., N. Mnzava and J. Ruttle. 1983.
Methods of Compost Preparation. pp. 58-63 In:
Semoka, J., F. Shao, R. Harwood and W. Liebhardt
(editors). Resource Efficient Farming Methods
forTanzania. Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa. Parnes,
R. 1990. Fertile Soil: A Grower's Guide to
Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers. AgAccess,
5. Pfirter, A., A. Von Hirschbeydt, P. Ott and H.
Vogtmann. 1981. Composting: AnIntroduction
to the Rational Use of Organic Waste. Migros-S
Figure 1. The composting process (adapted from Pfirter,
et, al, 1981)
4-G Sion Farm
Island Dairies Milk is 100% pure milk,
directly from the cows.
(/2 pints, quarts, / gallons, 6 gallon)
('2 pint, 10 oz., /2 gallon)
ICE CREAM (4 oz., pint, quart, 2 gallon, 22 gallon)
Vanilla Butter Almond
Rainbow Coconut Bar
Banana Bar Ice Cream Sandwich
Deluxe Ice Cream Bar
Agrifest '92...Educational, Cultural and Fun!!
Mr. Robert Moorehead ,(left) former Director of the Bureau of
Corrections, accepting the Special Recognition Award for the
outstandingjob at theAnna's Hope Corrections farm fromMr. Sam
Bough, District Supervisor office of the Delegate.
1YY2 4-H routn Awara given to LniKu noage oy uvi
President Dr. Orville Kean.
Mr. Gilmore Erikson, (center) owner of Ye Feed Shoppe, presented
Farmer ofthe YearAngel Luis Gonzales (right) with various prizes.
Rev. Eddie Williams (center) accepting the 1992RecognitionAward
on behalfofthe VI. Future Farmers ofAmerica from Senator Bent
Lawaetz (right) and Joseph Fulgence, Director of Youth Activities
t w i-.x-` Ij
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Breeders ofSenepol Cattle
ANNALY FARMS INC.
(Local and U.S. Choice)
Pork Chicken Fish Vegetables
Quality at low prices
Estate Upper Love RT # 72
Monday Friday 8:00-4:30, Saturday 8:00-12:30
A Gr Yea o Energyi
SL Renewable Energy Irrigation Systems
save farmers $200,000 in the first year!
1 Photovac System St. John
2 Photovac Systems St. Thomas
:" 6 Photovac Systems St. Croix
." 3 Wind Systems St. Croix
75 Farmers (St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John)
attend solar crop drying seminar
Division of Agriculture (EDA)
Demonstration Pumping System
Integrated Energy Farm System
E4cduE,4 P^r t Sector
* 40 Public / Private School Teachers get
science lessons from Laurence Livermore
National Energy Lab
* Commissioner of Education names
Energy Management Team
* Co-Sponsorship of VITEMS at UVI
40 teachers attend
* Sandia National Laboratories and others
provide technical training to Energy Office Staff
* Green Light Program nets St. Thomas
* YES (Your Energy Savings) meets St. Thomas
Home Show, Kaleidescope, Flamboyant Gardens
* Energy Policy and Energy Management
Presentations for Rotary, Realtors Association,
Architects and Developers.
* Rebate Program stimulates $5.5 million in sales
and 14 billion BTU reduction annually.
New Cycle includes Surge Suppressor systems,
Efficient Lighting, Solar Water Heaters.
* Training &Certification of Architects Enoineers
* UVI $195,000 energy conservation upgrades and Cc
* St. Thomas Hospital $95,000 for energy Techni
* Green Lights Program trains all agencies in
Lighting Surveys and Upgrade Planning
* Energy Audits for Government Buildings
* Co-Sponsor of Comprehensive Waste Management Program
* Well Inventory (STT, STJ), and Reverse Osmosis Demonstration
Project for WAPA
* Co-Sponsor (with DPW) Recycling Workshop
* Matching Funds for VITRAN Buses
* Veterans Memorial Park showcases Solar Power for Fountain Area
Lightingand Eternal Flame
* EEMIS Electronic database and alalytical tools to report economic,
environmental, and energy efficiency impact of energy projects
)ntractors as Energy Auditors and
T4t ]& Y4et t o Cie
1. Solar Water Heating System for the St. Croix Hospital.
2. 50 to 70 Residential, Commercial and Industrial Energy Audits to select model
sites for FREDERIKSTED RENEWABLE ENERGY DISTRICT.
3. Customized, high-tech Video/Audio Tele-conferencing System for the Depart-
ment of Education.
4. A solar powered maximum efficiency Energy Office at the Frederiksted Customs
5. Regional Energy Conference and Manufacturers Expo
6. Resource Assessment Sites and training to measure solar and wind resources and
improve engineering/ design of Renewable Energy Systems.
7. Participation in MAHO BAY Sustainable Development Resort/Research and
8. RENTECH brings 30,000 gallons of water to residents of Harrigan Court using
Photovoltaics and reverse Osmosis.
The Wasp and the Rubber Tree
Rudy G. O'Reilly, Jr.
Extension Agent-Natural Resources
UVI Cooperative Extension Service
The plant genus Ficus is represented by some 900 2,000
species world wide and is mainly native to the Old World
tropics (1). Classifications are sometimes disputed causing
much disagreement as to the actual number of species. St.
Croix has two native Ficus species: F. citrifolia, or short leaf
fig, and F. urbaniana. Both have been used for fence posts and
occasionally for ornamental purposes.
Some species are grown forrubber and fig production. The
latex is high in resin and yields poor rubber. The figs,
however, are edible and used for both human and animal
consumption. These figs, or syconiums, are globular recep-
tacles which enclose many flowersthat later develop into one-
seeded fruits. Male and two types of female flowers are found
in the figs of most species. Some species, such asthe common
fig used to make cookies, have male and long-stalked female
flowers on some trees and short-stalked female flowers on
In order for pollination to occur an Agaonid wasp must
enter through an opening, called the ostiole, at the top of the
syconium. Once inside, the wasp deposits an egg in the ovary
of each long-stalked flower. The ovary of the short-stalked
flowers can'tbe reached. While laying eggs, pollen carried on
the wasp's body is spread over all the flowers. Unable to leave
the receptacle the wasp then dies inside (2).
Only the short-stalked flowers develop into fruits, while
the wasp larvae develop in the long-stalked flowers by feeding
on the seed embryo. Wingless males mature first, bite holes
in the fig ovaries containing females, insert their abdomen
through the holes and mate with the females. Before dying,
they chew holes in the fruit through which the females later
exit taking pollen with them (3). Some species may leave
through the walls of the receptacle (1).
For many Ficus species, only one wasp species is respon-
sible for their pollination. These trees "control" pollinators
on abasis ofostiole size, timing offigproductionand the types
ofattactant they produce. Other factors include the wasp's
behavior and its ability to reach the ovary through the style of
the flower (3).
Some trees have more than one pollinator (1). In some
cases the wasp only deposits eggs, but does not pollinate the
fig (4). The tree also loses if the wrong pollen is brought into
the syconium, as some wasps are known to pollinate more than
one Ficus species (1).
Rubber trees may live 80 or more years and reach over 100
feet tall. The wasp, 2 mm or less, may live only a few weeks
once outside the receptacle. Yet both organisms have co-
evolved to depend on the other for the survival of their kind.
This relationship is symbiotic; both species benefit from the
presence of the other. Neither can complete its life cycle
without the other. It is an example of the balances and
dependencies found within many ofnature's ecosystems. This
one, however, is one of the most easily understood.
1. Condit, I.J., 1969.Ficus: TheExotic Species. The University
of California, Arcadia, pp 146 151.
2. Dowden, A.O., 1964. The Secret Life of the Flowers. The
Odyssey Press, New York, pp 30 33. Janzen, D.H.,
3. Howto be a fig. Annual Review Ecology Systematics 10:13
4. Wiebes, J.T., 1979. Co-evolution of figs and their insect
pollinators. Annual Review Ecology Systematics 10:1 -
Getting in Touch with Nature
Marcia G. Taylor
Virgin Island Marine Advisory Service
University of the Virgin Islands Eastern Caribbean Center
Learning about the natural environment is more than
studying the function and structure of biological
communities. Classroom instruction provides basic
cognitive understanding, but may fail to inspire and excite
children. Traditional instruction concentrates on teaching
the facts, but often fails to develop positive attitudes toward
the environment, which is crucial to its survival.
The key to developing positive attitudes about our
natural environment is interacting with it. Much like
developing a new friendship, children must interact with,
spend time with, develop a relationship with, the natural
rather than know about it, it will touch their souls and affect
their long-term behavior.
It has been nm experience that an adult's relationship
with nature depends on his or herchildhood experienceswith
nature. As a child growing up in rural Connecticut I was
surroundedwithby many natural playgrounds. These served
as a classroom for the most important type of learning in my
careerasa natural resourcespecialist. Duringthemany hours
I spent outdoors, day after day, I learned the most important
things about nature: the tranquility of a trickling brook, the
mood of the forest at sunset, the peace of sitting in a tree, the
unfettered joy of running in a field. These are the things
which drove meto pursue a career inthe natural sciences, and
which motivate me today to protect nature.
As a child, being outdoors gave me a sense of peace, of
freedom, andofjoy. But it alsogave mea sense ofprivacy, place
and touched my soul. They established within me a deep
connection with nature which is very much alive today.
The development of a positive attitude about the natural
environment is an important quality for the future leaders of
thisisland. As adults these children will becalledonto make
decisions which will affect wildlife and people, and their
shared home, the earth. They will need to have a healthy
concern about and reverence for their island's natural
resources. The survival of these resources depend on this.
Studies done on school children support the view that
increasing the number of field experiences will develop
positive attitudes toward the natural environment. Field
work has also been shown to stimulate cognitive learning.
Being excited about a subject heightens motivation and
Anobservation or study made in the natural environment
is one that the student can repeat at a later time on his own.
During the summer, students can't very easily re-examine
and reflect on demonstrations that were set up in the school
laboratory. But they can re-visit a mangrove area where they
went during a field trip. They could even share their field
experience with family or friends, without the classroom.
The environment becomes something familiar, something
comfortable with, something real, not just another science
class activity. This ability to reflect back on their own, allows
better retention of the knowledge.
When students go into the field, they learn about the
subject with all of the senses. They can see it for themselves,
not just through books. They can hear the sounds associated
with it, feel what it is like, smell it, and touch it. You can tell
students that the sediment associated with salt ponds is
largely organic in nature and anaerobic. Or you can take
them to Cassava Gardens wetlands and let them pick it up,
see how fine the sediment is, see the half decomposed leaves
in it, experience the smell and the texture, taste its saltiness.
Sensations to remember.
A lot has changed since I grew up, and children no longer
have the same opportunities to explore the natural world.
With the steady disappearance of undeveloped land adjacent
to housing, nature is becoming something remote. Children
today come home from school and rush to the TV or video
games instead of going outdoors. They are not providing an
opportunity to develop a kinship with nature.
There are some programs on the island which seek to
expose more children to the island's natural areas. This
summer the Virgin IslandsMarine Advisory Service (VIMAS),
in conjunction with the St. Croix Environmental Association
(SEA), ran the "Outdoor Adventure Week." This program
exposed children to several of St Croix's natural areas. In
addition to exploring these areas and discovering the many
fascinating plants and animals which reside there, the children
were given quiet time to reflect about their experiences in the
natural world. These field experiences start to develop
appreciation and respect for the island's natural resources.
Anyone can help children become better in touch with the
natural environment. You don't have to be an expert in
science; you just have to allow the kid in you to come out.
Take them exploring and discover with them the beauty
and mysteries of our environment. Take them snorkeling
and on long walks. Start them on a life-long learning
experience that will enrich their lives and allow them to
appreciate some of the best parts of our island. Captivate
them with beautiful, weird and wondrous things, so that
they will want to go back with their friends and parents and
preserve them for future generations. Invest in nature by
exposing children to it.
i: tf- -" -- "
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Youths discovering the natural beauty and mysteries of
Physiological Response of Three Sheep Breeds to Summer
Temperatures on St. Croix*
Dr. Stephan Wildeus and George Willock, Jr.
UVI Agricultural Experiment Station
*Data described inthis report were collectedby George Willock, Jr., a Central
High School senior at the time, as part of a Minority Research Apprentice
Program project under the direction of S. Wildeus. Mr. Willock is currently
completing a degree in civil engineering at Colorado State University, Fort
A major constraint to livestock production in the tropics
and subtropics is the necessity for most animals to produce
efficiently outside their thermo neutral range (55-650F).
Energy that could be utilized for production (growth, milk,
wool) must be diverted to maintain and control body tempera
ture. At ambient temperatures exceeding 65F, heat loss from
the body by conduction is reduced and additional cooling
mechanisms (evaporation from skin and respiratory tract)
have to take effect. Once ambient temperature exceeds 810F,
heat loss to the environment becomes impaired and animals
may respond with an increased body temperature and
respiration rate, and reduced feed intake, thus decreasing
production efficiency. Relative humidity, air movement and
solar radiation also influence the animal's thermoregulatory
Breeds of livestock differ markedly in their ability to cope
within creased environmental temperatures. Breedsthat have
evolved or been main tained for extended periods under
tropical conditions have physiologically adjusted to high
environmental temperatures, but usually at a cost to their
production potential. Some traits universally associated with
heat adaptation are a short hair coat, a high frequency of sweat
glands, reduced subcutaneous fat and a smaller digestive tract.
Pelage type and coat color also may have a significant effect
on an animal's ability for thermoregulation under various
A project was designed to compile preliminary data on
thephysiological response(rectal temperatureand respiration
rate) of two native Caribbean hair sheep breeds (Virgin
Islands White and Barbados Blackbelly) and a wool sheep
breed (Florida Native). The Florida Native sheep are a recent
importoriginating from the University ofFlorida at Gainesville
and are adapted to the climate of the Southern region of the
U.S. These breeds provided examples of both, different coat
colors (white: V.I. White and brown/black: Barbados
Blackbelly) and different pelage (hair: V.I. White and wool:
The experiment was conducted at the University of the
Virgin Islands Agricultural Experiment Station on St. Croix
and the animals housed at the Sheep Research Facility. Rams
were used as experimental animals in order to minimize
differences in physiological status usually present in the
female. Rams of uniform age (approximately 12 months) and
weight (approximately 70 lbs) were selected for the study.
In part one of the study, rams were maintained in pens and
on pasture and rectal temperature and respiration rate were
recorded at 0900 and 1200 hours for a five-day period. Rectal
temperature was determined in the restrained animals via a
digital veterinary thermometer, while respiration rate was
determined in unrestrained rams by visual assessment offlank
movement (average of two 15-second measuring periods).
Ambient temperatures were recorded at the time of
There were significant differences between the three
breeds and the time of day of measurement in both rectal
temperature and respiration rate (Figure 1). At 0900 hours no
difference was observed in rectal temperature (103.50F)
between rams of the three breeds, but rectal temperature
increased at noon and was highest (104.90F) in the Florida
Native rams. Respiration rate differed between the three
breeds at 0900, being highest in thewool rams(l 13 respirations/
min) and lowest in the V.I white rams (64 respirations/min).
Respiration rate increased from 0900 to 1200 hours in both
the Florida Native and V.I. White rams, but not the Barbados
Blackbelly rams which also had the smallest increase in rectal
temperature. Respiration rate and rectal temperature were
closely correlated (r=.601). The average ambient temperature
during the five-day period was 85.60F at 0900 hours and
89.50F at 1200 hours. There was a good positive correlation
of ambient temperature with rectal temperature (r=. 410), but
not with respiration rate (r=.238).
In part 2 of the experiment the same rams were used to
study the effect of moderate shade on rectal temperature,
respiration and water intake. Rams were confined in a
2.5'x4.0'x2.5' cage and placed in the open, either with or
without a 60 percent shade cloth cover. The shade cloth was
located 10 feet over the cages and provided shade throughout
the day without restricting airflow. Rams were allowed to
adjust to the cage for one day before measurements were taken
on the second day. Ambient temperature at pen level, rectal
temperature and respiration were recorded at 0900, 1200 and
1500 hours. In addition 24-hour water intake was monitored.
Shade didn't affect ambient temperatureat pen level (86-
880F), as had been expected, but was similar between the two
treatments. However, there was a small increase (86 to 880F)
in pen temperature between 0900 and 1200 hours. No
difference in rectal temperature and respiration rate were
observed between the two treatments. The three breeds again
differed in rectal temperature and respiration rate (Figure 2),
as was observed in part one of the experiment. In contrast to
part one, however, time of day had no influence on rectal
tempera ture and respiration rate, which may be the result of
the lower ambient temperature at noon in the second part of
the experiment. Water consumption of rams was reduced by
7.5 ounces (Florida Native) to 27 ounces (V.I. White) under
the shaded conditions (Table 1) compared to non-shaded
conditions. The reduction in water consumption under
shaded conditions was more pronounced in the hair (32-42
percent) than the wool rams (13 percent).
The experiment demonstrated some of the adaptive
advantages of the hair sheep over the wool sheep under
summer conditions on St. Croix. The wool rams, although
adapted to Florida temperatures, experienced a higher degree
of heat stress as indicated by the increased rectal temperature
and respiration rate. No consistent differences were observed
between the dark-colored Blackbelly and the white V.I. rams,
suggesting that coat color is of no particular consequence
underSt. Croix conditions. Under theprevailing temperatures
at the time of the experiment (880F), the animals appeared not
to be sufficiently heat-stressed to need shading to maintain
body temperature. However, the increased water consumption
by non-shaded animals indicates that they required a higher
level of sweating and respiratory evaporation, particularly at
noon, to maintain body temperature.
These preliminary results form the basis for further, more
detailed, studies evaluating adaptation of hair sheep genotypes
to the local environmental conditions. This information can
than be used to design more efficient management systems
and structures for sheep production on St. Croix.
0900 hrs 1200 hrs 0900 hrs 1200 hrs
AMBIENT TEMP. 85.60F 89.50F 85.60F 89.5F
Rectal temperatures and respiration rates in Florida Native (FN), Barbados Blackbelly (BB) and
V.I. White (VI) rams 0900 and 1200 hours over a 5-day period.
Water consumption (24
hour period) in Florida
Native (FN), Barbados
Blackbelly (BB) and
V.I. White (VI) rams
under shaded and non-
FN BB VI
Water consumption (oz)
non-shaded 57.0 59.3 64.5
shaded 49.5 40.5 37.5
l FN BB VI
102 .. d
0900 hrs 1200 hrs 1500 hrs 0900 hrs 1200 hrs 1500 hrs
AMBIENT TEMP. 86F 880F 870F 86F 88oF 880F
Rectal temperatures and respiration rates in Florida Native (FN), Barbados Blackbelly (BB) and
V.I. White (VI) rams at three times during the day under shaded and non-shaded conditions.
Ticks In The Virgin Islands
Duke Deller, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Department of Economic Development & Agriculture
abound in the Virgin
Islands and are a health
threat to cattle, horses
and dogs. Fortunately,
we have no ticks that carry
diseases transmissible to
humans (such as Lyme
Disease, Rocky Mountain
Spotted Fever or Tick
The greatest losses
from tick diseases occur
in cattle. Boophilus
Anaplasmosis in cattle
which infect the red blood
cells causing destruction.
Susceptible animals may
experience sudden death
from a shock-like
syndrome, becoming weak, disoriented and sometimes
belligerent before death. Less susceptible animals become
anemic and dehydrated and lose considerable weight.
They may also have a tendency to become slightly bloated
and constipated due to rumen and intestinal stasis.
The Boophilus tick has a three-stage life cycle. Eggs
are laid by the female in the ground. In seven to ten days,
the eggs hatch out small larvae or seed ticks which climb
on the grass and wait for passing bovine species. Once on
the cow, they feed on blood three to five days, moult into
a nymph that feeds another five to six days, and then moult
into an adult that also feed five to seven days. The
engorged females are about the size of the end of one's
index finger, they lay from 2,000 to 4,500 eggs.
Horses are plagued byDermacentor Nitans, the tropical
horse tick which carries Piroplasmosis and probably
Ehrlichiosis. Both are diseases of the red blood cells which
cause serious illness in horses, although neither is usually
Rhipicelphalus Sangueneus is the brown dog tick that
propagates very well in the tropics.
The tick can also live on cattle and
horses. The tick can carry
Biroplasmosis and Erhilichiosis
in dogs. Erhlichiosis in dogs is
S commonly called "the bleeding
disease" and occurs frequently in
the Virgin Islands. Intypicalcases,
dogs become febrile, lose hair and
appetite, become dehydrated, and
start bleeding from the nose. In
more chronic cases, dogs become
thin with matter eyes and may
have muscle soreness with red
blotches, bruised spots of
hemorrhage under the skin.
Piroplasmosis in dogs appears to
be rather rare in the Virgin Islands,
manifested by anemia, jaundice,
fever, depression, loss of appetite
and weight loss linked with
Ticks must be destroyed before
they can lay more eggs. They can be controlled by dipping
the animals every two weeks. With dog ticks, the nymphs
larvae crawl up into the rafters and ceiling, so these areas
must be sprayed also to effectively control the ticks. For
more information, call Duke Deller at 778-0997.
UVI-CES Educational Projects offered to the V.L Community
Community and Rural Development
Sustainable Agriculture in the Virgin Islands
Small Livestock Production
Pasture and Forage Development in the Virgin Islands
Integrated Farm Management Systems in the Virgin Islands
Extension Information Dissemination
Virgin Islands Extension Exhibitions/Fairs
Volunteer Development and Management
4-H Club System
4-H Youth Summer Camp Program
Youth at Risk
Food Safety and Quality
Limited Resources/Low Income Individuals/Families
Parenting & Family and Family Youth Programs
Improving Diet, Nutrition and Health
Developing Marketable Skills
Virgin Islands Comprehensive Water Quality Program
Soil and Water Conservation
Integrated Pest Management
Pesticide Impact Assessment
Virgin Islands Pesticide Applicator Training
Eastem Caribbean Extension Outreach and Interchange
Incentive Programs offered by the V.L Division of Agriculture
Fannland Tax Exemption
90% Subsidy to Farmers
Soil Conservation Services
Animal Health Care
Farmers and Fhermen Exemption
from Tax and License Fees
This program offers 95% tax exemption on land used for farming.
Qualified farmers are given a 90% rebate on taxable income.
Construct farm ponds or dams for water storage or retention at no cost to farmers.
Our Veterinary Health Program assists in combating and controlling animal diseases in
the Virgin Islands.
Provide slaughtering services under the USDA Inspection. This insures consumers
Fruit trees, packaged seeds and a variety of slips and vegetable seedlings are made
available to our farming citizens.
Assist farm s in the preparation of land for fanning
Provide farmers with molasses which increases the palatability of poor quality roughage
The Division bales hay and makes it available to our livestock farmers.
This program shares in the cost of producing fruits, vegetables, animals and other
Under this program, farmers and fishermen are exempted from payment of trade or
excise taxes, franchise taxes and license fees.
Farmer of the Year
Mr. Angel Luis Gonzales received the Farmer of the Year Awardfor his years of dedication as a livestock farmer from
Lieutenant Governor Derek M. Hodge and Kofi Boateng, (right), UVI-CES Livestock Specialist and Fair Director.
The V.I. Department of
Economic Development and Agriculture
The University of the Virgin Islands
Cooperative Extension Service
Agricultural Experiment Station