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What started as a frustrating day for George Kahumoku, Jr., farm owner of Kealia Farms in South Kona, has turned into a technology that is gaining interest across the entire Pacific basin. In the extension profession, it is a joy to work with producers who we call the “early adopters”. These producers latch on to new ideas and technology and make it work for their operations, improving production efficiency and their bottom-line. George was an early adopter who had many projects going on at the farm, within his community, with his music business, and in his life. One of his projects (and passions) was raising pigs and so George and I were looking at ways to improve his deep-bedded waste management system using the carbon-rich macadamia nut byproducts of shells and husks. One summer, due to George’s great reproductive management skills, he had a bumper crop of weaned pigs, which he temporarily housed in his dog kennels. The kennel had sloping floors that dropped-off into a lower containment level with a drain for the wash water. Husks were used as shallow bedding in the pens, but the pigs (and gravity) forced all of the material out of the pen into the basin where it clogged the drain. Being curious animals, the pigs played with the water nozzle until the lower containment area was filled with water too. When I arrived on George’s farm, he was frustrated with the big mess the pigs were making in their pens. What I saw was not the mess, but an innovative idea. This is when the light bulb in my brain started flashing and I told George, “This is it!”

The deep-bedded system had already been implemented in several European and Asian countries in the early 90’s, however there were some emerging concerns. The carbon bedding was immobile making clean-up difficult. As the manure accumulated, so did the liquid waste increase in the pens and the heat from the composting; conditions that optimized disease and parasite build-up that stressed the pigs