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ICT innovation to revitalize agriculture in Japan


02 April 2012

Press Release

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Agriculture in the Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan is set to get an ICT boost with trial of a farm-information sensing network that would improve cultivation in the region's popular sweet-corn fields.

Tokyo: Fujitsu, Japan's leading provider of ICT-based business solutions, recently announced the start of a field trial for sweet-corn cultivation using a farm-information sensing network. The trial will use the "Yamanashi Cooperative Farming System" promoted by Yamanashi Prefecture, and is intended to revitalize agriculture in the prefecture.

Sensing boxes that integrate temperature and humidity sensors with a simple camera are placed in the sweet-corn fields. These sensors collect temperature and humidity data on the interior of vinyl row covers and also indicate, with the aid of cameras, whether the vinyl row covers are open or closed. Analysis of this data can be used to optimize temperature and humidity management in the vinyl-covered row.

The start of this project also represents the beginning of the "Yamanashi Business Farming Agreement" between Fujitsu, the Nishi-yatsushiro Agricultural Cooperative (hereafter "JA-Nishi-yatsushiro"), and Shunka-Ichiba Co., Ltd.

With the goal of contributing to the sustainable use of biological resources, such as agricultural products, Fujitsu seeks to support primary industries through the application of ICT.

In 2011, the company installed a farm-information sensing network at a vineyard in Koshu, in Yamanashi Prefecture, in a field trial to determine the best time to pick grapes. In addition, ensuring that high-quality grapes were picked, this project was also able to optimize the timing for pest-abatement treatments, halving the cost of agricultural chemical applications while limiting disease outbreaks.

Yamanashi Prefecture is seeing a growing number of individuals and corporations that are getting involved in farming. While many of them choose to grow sweet-corn, which is comparatively easy to farm, regulating temperature and humidity by opening and closing row covers can be tricky, creating need for a way to pass along the know-how of experienced farmers.

Yamanashi Prefecture took note of Fujitsu's successful vineyard project, which led to the prefecture, Fujitsu, JA-Nishi-yatsushiro, and Shunka-Ichiba joining forces on a sweet-corn growing field trial to test whether farm-information sensing networks could effectively solve this problem.

The data resulting from this field trial will make the innate knowledge of experienced farmers easy to attain, thereby making it useful in fostering new farmers and farming corporations.

Field Trial Overview

Fujitsu is deploying a farm-information sensing network that it developed in the fields used by partners JA-Nishi-yatsushiro and Shunka-Ichiba, which will collect data on the timing of air ventilation inside the row covers, as well as on temperature and humidity. It will periodically transmit this data wirelessly to a remote office.

Analysis of the collected data will make it possible to visualize the relationship between the timing of air ventilation and temperature and humidity conditions.

The sensor boxes that collect the measurements are equipped with batteries and solar panels, obviating the need to change batteries and allowing for accurate surveys to be conducted efficiently, without human intervention. Furthermore, the wireless network used to transmit the data uses a particular kind of low-power radio that allows for data to be collected with no communications charges.

Future Plans

Fujitsu looks forward to applying the farm-information sensing network that it developed to other agricultural products, to prevent theft or damage by wildlife. The company plans to continue exploring innovative applications for ICT that will revitalize agriculture.

 
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