De-Salting Northern Japan

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Not long ago, we saw the development of salt-tolerant crops in areas that couldn’t be irrigated or were damaged by a flood of salt-water. And then came the massive wave swamping northern Japan last March — it would seem like good timing, but it’s difficult to grow even salt-tolerant strains of anything in the wake of that mess.

Six months later, a concerted effort is under way to repair the damage done and reclaim the soil. Part of this effort is a business agreement between NEC Corporation (electronics), NTT DoCoMo (cell phones and communications), and My Farm of Shimogyou Ward, Kyoto (guess what they do).

My Farm’s salt removal technology has been around for a while, but they’ve made a concerted effort to improve results since spring. Methods include blending the salt-damaged soil with other varieties of dirt, and introducing salt-eating microbes into the area. The new techniques are available starting this month to farmers and owners of agricultural land affected by the Tohoku quake (not quite free of charge).

NEC and NTT DoCoMo are both installing sensors on the properties supported by My Farm. Sensors provided by NEC measure underground temperature and water and salt concentration. The information is then sent to a server where it is recorded, stored, and analyzed in order to measure the effectiveness of agricultural restoration methods. NTT DoCoMo has enlisted its widespread cell phone network (the widest coverage in the country) to gather atmospheric data: rainfall, wind speed and direction, temperature, and humidity. This information is provided to farms free of charge.

The sheer scope of the land affected by both the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami is such that it cannot be cultivated again without drastic measures being undertaken. My Farm, NEC, and NTT DoCoMo are banding together in an effort to help their country. Of course, the good PR doesn’t hurt either.

Source: Eco Japan.

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