Climate change is among the biggest threats to the future of humanity. Already, it has led to a loss in biodiversity and threatens food production. To counter those trends, Japanese companies are developing technologies that will make our environment stronger and more resilient to the challenges at hand.
This article is a part of the public relations by the Cabinet Office of Japan to introduce Japanese companies’ technology for the resilient society.
Our technology and activities are introduced as the ones to fuel solve climate change, one of the serious global issues.
Many companies are already making nature a priority through the way they sustainably use natural resources across their supply chains, create clean jobs, and produce greener products.
Now, those leadership efforts need to be scaled up and complemented by ambitious, transformative government policy in line with what science tells us is necessary for the world to thrive within nature’s limits.
We believe protecting nature is essential for the future of our business, and you may be aware that we have already taken steps to provide farmers with options the reduce the impact of their activities on nature.
Arid areas cover more than 46% of the earth’s land area and are home to around 40% of the global population.
While droughts and desertification already post major agricultural challenges in these areas, climate change threatens to worsen the situation, reducing output and making it harder to meet growing food demand.
Now, a soil improvement agent developed through a collaboration between Tottori Resource Recycling and the Arid Land Research Center at Tottori University promises to alleviate the challenges of agriculture in arid areas.
The foamed glass agent is a porous material that is produced by burning pulverized glass from used bottles mixed with a foaming agent such as shell powder or calcium carbonate.
When mixed with soil, the agent increases the water retention capacity and improves aeration for more than ten years, making it possible to grow crops in areas with limited rainfall.
Since 2015, the collaboration has been testing the soiling agent in the Souss Massa region of Morocco, which is known for its large-scale farms.
Climate change has resulted in longer and more frequent droughts in the region over the past several decades, in turn leading to the rapid depletion of groundwater.
Forecasts for a 20-30% decrease in rainfall across Morocco through the end of the century – also due to climate change – threaten to exacerbate water supply challenges in the region.
Water scarcity in the Souss Massa basin coupled with increasing water stress due to urban development was having a negative impact on tomato crops.
The region is responsible for more than 80% of Morocco’s tomatoes, which make up nearly half of the country’s vegetable exports.
Using the soiling agent developed in Japan, farmers boosted tomato yields by 28% while conserving 50% of the water supply.
The soil agent has produced similar results in Senegal, where it boosted green bean yields by more than 70%.
More recently, pilot projects in other countries including China, Somalia, Mauritania, Peru, and the UAE are testing the soiling agent.
In each location, the soiling agent promises to reduce the amount of water and fertilizer required in turn reducing the cost of production or to increase the yield with the same amount of inputs.
By enabling farmers to boost crop yields and overcome chronic water supply challenges in arid areas, this technology promises to make agriculture more resilient against the challenges of climate change.
Prof. TSUJIMOTO Hisashi
Arid Land Research Center, Divison of Agricultural Production Tottori University