Pa‘auilo, Hawai‘i – Hawai‘i Beef Producers has joined Parker Ranch and Ulupono Initiative in an agreement to jointly fund pre-commercial trials for irrigated finish pasture beef production on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The irrigated trials will be run on 70 acres of pasture next to the Hawai‘i Beef Producers processing facility on the Hamakua Coast and involve just under 100 head of cattle. The trials will be completed by May 2013.

“We’re pleased to be joining in these trials to help find the most cost-effective, timely method toward increasing our overall local grass-fed beef production,” said David De Luz, Jr., Hawai‘i Beef Producers. “Everyone’s collaboration on this study will help ranchers statewide determine the potential for developing commercially based grass-fed feedlots, or pasture finishing companies, to meet consumer demands for high-quality local beef that everyone can afford.”

In these pre-commercial trials, Hawai‘i Beef Producers is testing the impacts of fertilized, irrigated grass using the Hamakua Ditch Irrigation System, and Parker Ranch is studying the impact of using fertilized, non-irrigated grass. In addition, Kamehameha Schools is doing its own trial on unfertilized, irrigated pasture in Hamakua. The outcomes from all of the trials will be combined and shared with all partners as well as the Hawai‘i Cattlemen’s Association and the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) to help determine which combination of methods are best for lowering the production costs and improving the quality of locally produced grass-fed beef.

“These trials are integral to helping further Hawai‘i’s agricultural sector, so it’s great to have Hawai‘i Beef Producers join,” said Kyle Datta, general partner for Ulupono Initiative. “We’re so pleased to be able to help catalyze this partnership with our local ranching community to help inspire other Hawai‘i ranchers to consider grass-fed as an option. In addition, the combined trials using the Hamakua Ditch Irrigation System will help provide insights on commercially viable water rates for finish pasture operations, which will be key to the expansion of local beef production and could have statewide implications.”

Dutch Kuyper, CEO of Parker Ranch, said, “The interest and collaboration among our fellow ranchers for these trials is a sign of positive momentum. It gives us additional confidence that our research and investment in grass-fed beef is a good decision for our business model and for the scale of the Hawai‘i beef industry as a whole.”