Sustainable agriculture is a new and exciting area of research being conducted at The Center for Sustainable Development (CSD). The experimental research is being lead by two of our Biologists, Sarah Richardson, Ecotoxicologist and Sustainability Teacher, and Mark Young, Permaculture and Sustainability Research Teacher. Using local waste resources including coconuts and seaweed, the team is investigating the potential positive effects on the germination, growth and yield of cover crops in sandy soils. Their research will provide critical results that can be used to educate local farmers of Small Island Developing States, such as Eleuthera, as well as to contribute to global research on sustainable alternatives to traditional farming practices.
The research began in January 2016 with the construction of CSD’s first biochar kiln. Biochar is the product of pyrolysis, where organic matter is heated to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to create a substance rich in carbon. Biochar has been proposed as an option to mitigate climate change, with its greatest potential being for sustainable agriculture as it simultaneously sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide while replenishing the soil with nutrients and increasing crop yields. After many early attempts, the CSD summer intern team constructed the latest pyrolysis kiln, a repurposed 48 gallon water pressure cylinder capable of producing an average of 5kg of coconut husk biochar with each firing.
In September 2017, the research team, including The Island School students, designed and constructed CSD’s first experimental research garden. The experiments are currently underway and the team hopes this new project will further contribute to the growing scientific and public interest on sustainable farming practices. CSD is very excited about the newest innovative area of research and hopes to continue expanding on permaculture and sustainable agriculture initiatives.