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(Updated April 2011)
Spotlight:I traveled to Costa Rica during Maymester to work as a TA for Dr. Lori Snyderís course on training sustainable agricultural practitioners. In addition to serving as a course TA, I worked on my research, which is located in Aguas Zarcus Costa Rica.
My research is focused on creating a sustainable solution for the abundance of pineapple waste that exists as a result of the massive pineapple farms and packaging facilities in Costa Rica. By working with several farmers in different regions of Costa Rica I was able to create pineapple silage for dairy cattle. Costa Rica has a large dairy sector that is constantly looking for ways to cut costs and produce higher milk yields. By using local pineapple waste and other farm by-products we were able to create a high protein silage blend that could be stored for long periods of time without spoilage. While working on a farm in Aguas Zarcus, we performed a feeding trial and integrated the silage blends into the dairy cattle feed. At first the cows didnít like it but eventually we were able to successfully integrate the feed.
From this experience, I learned quite a bit about the complexities of dairy farming in such a humid environment. The humidity causes most everything to spoil extremely fast. It was tough to create silage in such heat and not wind up with compost or a toxic blend. By working with farmers and using their knowledge and expertise of the area with our understanding of agriculture we were able to come up with a sustainable solution that helped eliminate mass amounts of waste and produce a high protein feedstuff for the dairy industry. Our study actually resulted in two different farms building bunker silos specifically to be used for pineapple waste silage.
The experience of working within international agriculture will provide me with a great framework as I embark on my next adventure: Peace Corps in Africa. The experience of having to overcome the language barrier in order to come up with practical solutions that took into account the locals knowledge of the land was a huge step for me. My time in Costa Rica will be very similar to what is expected of me in Africa working for Peace Corps. I will be in the field everyday working with local farmers trying to help solve problems and come up with sustainable solutions. It is hard to prepare for such a task, but my trip to Costa Rica will certainly serve as a great influence and experience as I embark on my 27 month stint in Africa.
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