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  • Author or Editor: Kent D. Kobayashi* x
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Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers are increasingly being used to supplement the use of laptops and desktop computers. Their small size makes them portable and convenient to use. These devices are providing horticulturists with new tools for their work. Mobile applications (apps) are software applications that run on smartphones and tablet computers. They can be easily downloaded to a smartphone or tablet computer. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available, covering a wide range of topics. Many apps are free, whereas others have a cost. Horticulture-related apps for research, extension, teaching, and industry are available. These apps deal with diverse topics such as food safety, geographic information systems, hydroponics, scouting for insects, turfgrass management and weeds, plant growth regulator (PGR) calculations, conservation trees (trees suitable and recommended for conservation plantings), landscape design, plant and tree identification, crop protection product information, and industry trade publications. This article gives an overview of some of the horticulture-related apps that are available. Are there horticulture-related mobile apps for me? Yes!

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Student engagement in the classroom is critical for effective learning. To enhance student engagement, several teaching approaches can be used, including a flipped classroom approach and virtual field trips. The flipped classroom approach was used in an undergraduate tropical production systems course in which students viewed lecture materials outside of class, brought their smart devices to class to review materials, searched for new information on the Internet, and participated in small group discussions. In the virtual field trip assignment, each student visited a commercial farm or nursery, interviewed the owner or manager, and gave a presentation to the class about the operation of the enterprise and its sustainable practices.

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Graduate students within the Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa developed a program that addressed their concerns regarding career enhancement and planned a Professional Development Seminar Series. Students identified topics related to enhancing their overall graduate experience and professional development, such as ethics in research, leadership in graduate school and beyond, interviewing skills, and writing critically for publications. Experts from the University of Hawaii and business communities presented 35- to 40-minute seminars on the various topics. Expectations of the students included participation in discussion sessions and completion of a critical thinking exercise after each presentation. Course evaluations revealed that the new seminar series was considered to be as effective as established courses within the department. On a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, students learned to value new viewpoints [4.2 ± 0.8 (mean ± SD)], related what they learned in class to their own experiences (4.5 ± 0.8), and felt the course was a valuable contribution to their education (4.4 ± 0.9). Students suggested offering the course during fall semesters to incoming students, reinforcing of the critical thinking exercise, and making the course mandatory for first-year graduate students.

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A computerized personal information management system has been developed to provide information on crop production and industry status to extension personnel and farmers. This hypermedia system, which links interrelated facts, enables the user to browse easily through a mass of information and access specific data rapidly.

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Curricula in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa were created and modified in the last few years to educate students on topics related to environmental sustainability. New programs included an Organic Food Crop Production course and the Sustainable and Organic Farm Training program. The courses Tropical Production Systems, Vegetable Crop Production, and Weed Science were modified to incorporate concepts of environmental sustainability. The new curricula and modified courses were designed to actively engage students and to promote self-learning through in-depth coverage of sustainable horticultural theory, a hands-on practicum, farm visits, and cocurricular activities. Students were exposed to a broad range of topics, including agroecology, urban agriculture, organic food production, marketing, aquaponics, and landscape ecology from a unique tropical perspective.

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Reducing grower reliance on off-island inputs to promote plant nutrition was identified by industry as a high priority in efforts to improve agricultural sustainability in Hawai’i. A variety of knowledge gaps exist that prevent producers from using locally produced amendments in the fertility program. This study will focus on recent transdisciplinary efforts at the University of Hawai’i to improve understanding of factors that affect variability in the quality, application, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of locally produced composts, vermicomposts, rendered animal products, and algae in Hawai’i. A series of greenhouse, experiment station, and on-farm trials have supported several conclusions, including 1) aqueous extracts of vermicomposts and high-quality, farmer-produced thermophilic composts can effectively improve crop growth and reduce costs associated with the use of these inputs; 2) replacement of peat and other imports with local materials in vegetable seedling production have the potential to improve seedling vigor and reduce costs in the long term; 3) commercially produced rendered meat products, alone and in combination with commercial composts, are a valuable local source of nitrogen (N); and 4) invasive algae from coral reef remediation may provide a significant source of potassium (K) in the near term, but K content of algae is highly dependent on species and location of growth.

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