• The 8th Hyper Interdisciplinary Conference

Digest of the 8th Annual Meeting] Thinking about how to cultivate the earth to feed 10 billion people


From left: Masahiro Kitajima, president of Farm Ship, and Kazushi Fujii, senior researcher at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute,
Shojiro Kobashi, President and Representative Director, Kobashi Kogyo; Yukihiro Maru, Representative Director and Group CEO, Liverness (organizer)

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100Thinking about how to cultivate the earth to feed 100 million people



Soil is a resource that is "commonplace," yet there are still many things that remain unknown even to modern science. How should we cultivate the earth in the near future, when the population will increase rapidly?
This session will feature a discussion by Kazuyoshi Fujii, Senior Researcher, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, author of "Soil: The Earth's Last Secret in Search of Soil to Feed 10 Billion People"; Shojiro Kobashi, President, Kobashi Kogyo, an agricultural machinery manufacturer with a new philosophy of "cultivating the earth"; Masahiro Kitajima, President, Farmship, an agritech company that creates the future of agriculture and food; and Yukihiro Maru, Group CEO, Livanes. Masahiro Kitajima, President of Farmship, and Yukihiro Maru, Representative Director and Group CEO of Livanes, an agri-tech company that creates the future of agriculture and food.


The 9th Annual Hyperdisciplinarity Conference will be held online on April 23, 2020.



What exactly does "good soil" mean?


RIVANES, Yukihiro Maru

While population decline has become a major issue in Japan, the population of the entire earth is said to increase to about 10 billion people by 2050 and 2060. Will 10 billion people be able to lead affluent lives on this planet with the same food, water, environment, and air quality as now? The time has come for us to seriously consider this question.


Today, I would like to discuss the theme "How to cultivate the earth for 10 billion people" with a very interesting group of members. First, Mr. Shojiro Kobashi, President of Kobashi Kogyo, who is also the sponsor of this session!


Shojiro Kobashi, Kobashi Kogyo Co.

Best regards.


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Mr. Kazuyoshi Fujii of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, who knows everything there is to know about soil.


Kazuyoshi Fujii, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute

Best regards.


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Masahiro Kitajima of Farmship, which runs a plant factory, says, "No, no, soil alone is not enough for 10 billion people to live.


Masahiro Kitajima, Farm Ship

Best regards.


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And facilitation will be done by Maru from Liverace. First of all, Mr. Fujii will give a talk on "What is Earth Soil?" as well as introduce himself!



My name is Kazuyoshi Fujii. To briefly introduce myself, I am a researcher at the National Institute of Forestry Research. I have also written two books, and my 2018 book "Soil: The Earth's Last Secret" came in 12th place in that year's New Book Awards, just one point short of 10th place, so I guess I'm a bit "plain" in that respect, but at any rate, I'm working to communicate the appeal of soil in various ways.


Do you know what "good soil" means? Actually, the conditions are much tougher than you might think.


For example, good aeration, good drainage, good water retention, good fertilizer retention, neither acidic nor alkaline, resistance to disease, and so on.


Then I hear that it's not just silky, but there are some columbite grains mixed in. This is mostly earthworm poop. Incidentally, it is also important to have a lot of earthworms and a variety of microorganisms in the soil to make it less susceptible to disease. Anyway, the conditions for good soil are quite demanding.


In such a situation, the most fertile soil in the world is found in places such as the Prairie in the United States, the Pampas in South America, and Ukraine. The land where you learn in geography textbooks, "This is the breadbasket," has good, dark soil that meets those conditions.


Also, if we map where fertile soil is located, we can see that, roughly speaking, there is a lot of good soil in places with large populations, such as China and India. Good soil is not distributed neatly all over the world, but rather there are "too much" and "too little" in some places.


Japan, unfortunately, does not have good soil. It tends to be acidic where there is a lot of rainfall, and because of this, there is the problem of having to spread lime. However, it is "so-so good soil.


That is why there are about 12 major types of soil in the world. We say "soil" in one word, but when we talk about what we should do with soil from now on, we need to be aware that the soil on which we are talking may differ from person to person.


Then, how many people can the earth feed with those 12 types of soil? For example, if we look at a map showing the relationship between soil type and population density for each of the 12 types of soil, we can see that Japan cannot "add any more people," but on the other hand, the areas with low population density seem to be "still viable.


However, does this really mean that there is room for growth, or does it mean that there is no room for more to begin with? Actually, this is still the latter. The same thing can be said not only about soil, but also about the distribution of rainfall, for example. Generally speaking, the more rainfall there is, the larger the population. The reality is that without water, it is difficult to increase the number of people.


To add one more thing, no matter how good the soil is, it is no good if it freezes. When considering population, such climatic constraints are significant.


To be more specific, if you try hard to irrigate and farm on dry land, the salt spews out. Some soil scientists believe that this may have been the cause of the collapse of the Mesopotamian civilization. That is not what the textbooks say, though.



Without nitrogen fertilizers, 60% of today's population would not exist.



Next, we will talk about what we mean by so-called soil fertility.


There is such a thing as slash-and-burn agriculture, which in the end means "converting what used to be a forest into a field. In the first year, the harvest is very good. But in the second and third years, the yield gradually declines. So the traditional method is to return the land to the forest one more time at some point and use it again as a field when it becomes fertile again.


In contrast, as a result of continuing to use the land even after the yield dropped, the soil became ruined, and even if they tried to return "once more to the forest," they would not be able to do so. To put it bluntly, this is Africa.


To restore the soil to its original state, it is no longer possible by natural forces alone, and we must rely on fertilizers. We have to rely on chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers, and so on.


What was extremely revolutionary there was the Haber-Bosch nitrogen fertilizer developed about 100 years ago. It is said that without this invention, 60% of the current population could not exist.


However, there is a problem with this fertilizer as well. The problem is that the per capita GDP of each country is very nicely proportional to the amount of fertilizer consumed. In other words, the poorer the soil, the more fertilizer is needed, but the availability of fertilizer is determined by money, which is a contradictory reality. As a result, there has been a recent trend of rich people buying up poor land.


In this sense, as a "representative of soil," I have to admit defeat. Nowadays, research on plant breeding is progressing, but it is common that "this plant will grow 10 under the best conditions," but when grown in soil, "it will grow only 5, half of what it should be.


In fact, in Africa, the soil is the bottleneck that prevents plants from reaching their potential at all, and this is the cause of poverty. When people say, "It's the soil's fault," all I can say is, "You're right.


On the other hand, there are also fields in the world where crops can be grown without any problems by no-till, such as the endless fields on the Great Plains in Canada and the vast soybean fields in Brazil. Agriculture in these areas is labor-saving, and they have very good IT management.


The world as a whole is also moving in the direction of no-till agriculture, where pesticides are applied in large quantities, and genetically modified crops that are resistant to these pesticides are the only way to achieve this.


However, the state of agriculture is more diverse than one might imagine, and not everyone can follow the trend. As I have already mentioned, there are some areas where no-tillage does not work, and in those areas, the soil must be cultivated to survive.


For example, in the clayey regions of Japan, people have been raising cattle for a long time. It takes a lot of grain to raise cows, so if you think about it simply, we should not do that and produce grain and turn it over to people. But the reason why they still dared to have cows is because the soil is heavy clay, and in order to cultivate it, the power of cows was necessary in the past.


Japan is a country that is prone to disasters, and when you look at a geological map, you can easily see that "Ah, so that's why landslides occurred. At the same time, however, the Japanese people have made good use of the soil made fertile by the landslides for rice paddies, and they have also made use of the volcanic ash that fell as a result of the eruption to grow vegetables. Recently, I have collaborated with a Japanese farmer who used nitrogen fertilizer for rice cultivation, which is usually more effective in producing a higher yield, but he dared to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer to the very limit in order to produce good sake.


That is why there are so many different ways in which soil and humans are involved. I would like to end my talk by saying that the soil is doing its best in the soil, although it may not be as sophisticated as a plant factory or a tractor.


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Thank you! Wow, that's interesting. Do you know Kobashi-san, who loves soil so much?


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No, it is amazing. I read Mr. Fujii's "Sochi: The Last Nazo of the Earth" myself, and I really recommend it. I hope everyone in the audience will read it as well.


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I have a question for you, Mr. Fujii. You mentioned that there are 12 types of soil on earth.



Deserts can turn into quite fertile soil as long as they have water. In fact, it can contain more nutrients than normal soil, so it grows quite well. The most famous example is Israel's drip agriculture. It is a waste to spray water all over the field, so water is dropped in dots only around the roots. As long as you can make that capital investment, and as long as the water you use is not too salty, it's quite an attractive form of agriculture. The land is not bothered by the sun.


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If so, what is the definition of soil?



To put it bluntly, the broadest way to call it is to say, "Let's call all the places where plants can potentially grow soil." So deserts are OK. On the other hand, just rocks are a bit different.


A narrower term would mean something like "a black substance formed by plants, soil, and living things interacting with rocks. So the definition of soil changes depending on how you look at it.



The greatest added value of plant factories is freshness.


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Now that Mr. Fujii has talked about soil, let's talk about water, so to speak. Mr. Kitajima of Farmship, which operates a plant factory, will talk about "Soil is old, and it is water that feeds 10 billion people. This is already a battle of soil versus water (laughs).



Well, I am not such an irreverent person, but anyway, please take care of me (laughs).


First of all, let me briefly introduce Farmship, a small company established in 2014. We are building a business model that has a vegetable-growing plant factory at its core and, like J.A., we are also responsible for organizing growers and functioning as a marketplace.


In addition, our distribution business includes logistics, customer development, and marketing, and we have built a sales network of several thousand stores to date. In the future, we hope to develop our own logistics operations as well.


The technology itself has been around for quite some time, and business for bean sprouts and sprouts is already fully established. On the other hand, we are currently working on plant factories that focus on leafy greens, which require longer growing time. As a result of the network we have built throughout Japan, the entire group is now capable of producing about 10 tons of leafy greens per day, or about 3,500 tons per year.


As you all know, a plant factory looks like a factory, and from the perspective of this session's theme, it is a complete adversary, growing vegetables in an environment with no soil at all. Basically, they are hydroponics, and while there are various types of hydroponics, the one we are mainly using is called the pool method.


In fact, we are also looking overseas, and we have a joint venture in the Bogor region of Indonesia, where we happen to have a good relationship. The scale of the project is small, but we have set up a plant factory and are conducting test marketing.


So what was a shock to me was that when we grew baby leaves at the factory on a test basis and sold them in 10-15 gram units, they sold ridiculously well, even at 1,000 yen. The reason behind this is that the need for "fresh vegetables" is very high over there, as the water is still not clean enough for normal use. The prices are unthinkable in Japan, but they still sell well at all. This does not mean that we should simply go overseas, but Indonesia is a country with a population almost twice that of Japan and a large young population, so we feel that it has great potential.


That is why at Farmship, we are pursuing how we can make the most of the plant factory technology that has existed for a long time to turn it into a business. In the future, we would like to take this one step further and incorporate a "market-in" concept, which is an area where conventional agriculture has not been able to do so.


What is the added value that can maximize the advantages of plant factories? Our ultimate goal is to create a cold chain and value chain system that can achieve this.


Finally, I will try to get a little closer to the "battle" that Maru-san is so eager to lead us into.


It is said that we humans will travel to space in the future, and from a practical standpoint, the first thing we will need in space is the infrastructure for our daily lives, including food, clothing, and shelter. What kind of agriculture can support people's lives in space?


I believe that the limiting factor there will be the soil. Soil itself, which is currently the base of agriculture, will become a constraint in the space age. And unless we can come up with a solution to this problem, I think human development will not be possible.


In fact, the name of our company, Farmship, means that we will be the ship when man leaves the soil and goes into space. As part of this process, we are first working to increase the productivity of food production, starting with agriculture, and eventually we would like to move forward with the goal of being able to go to space.



Cost of plant factories and conventional agriculture.


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As Mr. Kitajima mentioned, plant factories are not a new technology. In fact, the technology has been in existence for 40 years, and 80% of the bean sprouts and mushrooms that you eat today are already produced in factories. When you go to the supermarket, you may see bean sprouts sold for 10 or 20 yen, but the reason they are cheap is because they are completely produced in factories.


But you don't need light to grow bean sprouts or mushrooms. But other vegetables need light. In this case, normal agriculture uses the soil that is available, water is technically available by drip irrigation, and light is provided by the sun. On the other hand, will using artificial light in plant factories really be viable from a cost standpoint?



You are right. There are many ways to make plant factories viable. However, when it comes to sustainability, we have estimated that plant factories use 40 to 50 times more electricity than conventional agriculture. In this way, plant factories are "not impossible if you try," but "in terms of sustainability, there is a question mark over whether they are sustainable.


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I see. Actually, I was hoping you would object to what I just said (laughs). (Laughs.) That is, it is true that plant factories may use electric energy for light, but farmland also uses gasoline when it is plowed with a tractor. Many people tend to say, "Agriculture is all about light, soil, and water, so there is no need to use electricity" without really thinking about this point. What do you think about this, Mr. Kobashi?


small bridge

I will avoid mentioning the fuel consumption of tractors, but it is a fact that at least as much energy is used in the manufacture of agricultural machinery, such as the tillage claw that Kobashi Kogyo makes. Considering this, we cannot say that plant factories are bad because they use 40 times more electricity, or that regular farming is good because it is natural.



Do developing countries need plant factories or supplements?


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In English, agriculture is called "agri-culture. In other words, I think agriculture means that the soil creates culture, produces food, and people live there. No, I am a doctor of agriculture myself, so I have to say something nice once in a while (laughs).


On the other hand, a plant factory can be located in Japan or Africa, and as long as it has a certain amount of energy and seeds, it will produce exactly the same thing. I feel somewhat uncomfortable about this, perhaps because I am an old-fashioned person. How about you, everyone is eating exactly the same thing? I'm totally selling this to you, Kitajima-san, but what do you think?



Well, yes. We are certainly in the business of providing the same food to everyone.


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That is exactly where I feel uncomfortable. Plant factories are a business, not agriculture.



However, I think that the pursuit of rationality for the time being is what capitalism is all about. The same is true of genetically modified crops, but from a business standpoint, people are tempted to produce the same thing industrially. It is more productive to produce highly productive products in an advanced environmentally controlled system such as a plant factory.


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I'd like to ask the audience a few questions about this. Please close your eyes already, everyone. As Mr. Kitajima says, "If it's nutritious, you can eat the same thing every day. Raise your hand if you are willing to eat the same thing every day as long as it is nutritious, even if it is a supplement. I see.


Then now, as Maru says, "No, no, I want to eat something different. Raise your hand if you think, "This must have been made by my grandfather, it smells like earth, and I want to eat something different in different places. Yes, I would like to eat something that smells of the soil and is different in different places. Thank you very much. See, I've already won overwhelmingly (laughs).


But I think it's interesting how selfish people can be, or so I say, and I take supplements too. I take supplements and eat what I like at the same time. I think it is human nature to want to do both.


On the other hand, I don't know if any of you in the audience have ever been to a developing country, but when you actually go there, there is a real lack of nutrients there. Because they can't grow vegetables. So, if anything, developing countries need supplements more than we do.


In this regard, in order to "protect the nutrition of 10 billion people," we actually need to support supplements with cutting-edge technology. I have always thought that vegetables will paradoxically become a luxury item.


On a global scale, should farmships take their plant factories to Africa, or should they distribute nutrient-rich supplements through farmship distribution? Kitajima-san, do you not do supplements?



No, thanks to Maru-san's wonderful facilitation skills, our company may be seen as a cold company, but it's not that (laughs).


When we talk about the function of plant factories, we inevitably end up talking about the same thing as before, but food is basically a culture, and there should be a variety of cultures. Also, since we are human beings, I don't think we will ever stop talking about our desire to eat a variety of foods.


On the other hand, how to take in food or calories as a base is also a proposition, and I would like to do what I can, including supplements. I would like to do what I can, including supplements. So I think it is a combination of the two.


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In terms of soil, what do you think of what you just said, Mr. Fujii?



You mentioned nutrients, and we know that plants can grow if they meet 13 elements. This is the same for plant factories. However, in fact, even in a plant factory, other trace elements are dissolved in the water. And perhaps it is thanks to these elements that we are able to survive. In other words, we do not live only on 13 elements.


If you are unlucky enough to try local production for local consumption with soil that is unbalanced in nutrients, you can become malnourished. So simply glorifying local production for local consumption too much is a risk, but on the other hand, there is also a risk in assuming that as long as we have 13 elements, we can live.


It is quite possible that we are ingesting trace amounts of elements through the soil or through water without even knowing it, and we should be aware that we are somehow reducing our risk in this way.


However, that does not mean that we should "use only soil" or "no plant factories.


At the beginning I mentioned that there are 12 types of soil. For example, Las Vegas is a typical example, but when I go abroad, there are always casinos in places where the soil is bad. They have already given up on agriculture. On the other hand, if they do farming, they will be very poor. In other words, there are risks in living a life tied only to the soil.


When I say this, people say, "What are you talking about, a soil researcher?" But I think that the establishment of plant factories in places where the soil is poor will open up the possibility of successfully coexisting with the soil.


For example, right now the soil in Fukushima is in trouble because of the contamination caused by the nuclear power plant accident, but not so much the water. So, if we can use plant factories until the soil recovers, we can make better use of the land.


I believe there are two sides to this: we should not disregard the soil, but on the other hand, we should not be too tied down to it alone.



In Japan, 1.4% of farmers support 98.6% of consumers.


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This is my personal hypothesis. The population is decreasing in Japan today. I have been thinking about the reason for this, and I came up with the idea that it is because the contact with the soil has decreased. This is a bit far-fetched, but let me try to explain the logic.


First of all, the more contact with the soil, the more diseases we get. There are various kinds of bacteria. So, more disease means more chance of death. So, if we hypothesize that there is a gene that, when people think of death, acts on the principle of "more people," then the increased probability of death paradoxically becomes the principle of "more people.


Therefore, I think that soil and agriculture may be treasures of the earth that have the will to nurture life. If the soil disappears and we are left with only concrete, the number of human beings will rapidly decrease. Mr. Kobashi, what do you think about this hypothesis?


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No, it's a great perspective. To add a little more, that "being away from the soil" thing is the same problem with the Japanese family system, in my opinion.


There used to be a time in Japan when you could go to a farming village and have five or six children. The reason why this was the case was because people needed manpower to cultivate the farmland, so they had children and raised them. Then, the eldest son would take over the family, and the second and subsequent sons would go to the cities in search of work.

The second and subsequent sons who leave for these urban areas grow up in Tokyo or Osaka and start new families there. In this way, the concentration of people in urban areas accelerates as they move further and further away from the soil with each passing generation.


What has happened as a result is that in Japan today, 1.4% of farmers support 98.6% of consumers.


On the other hand, if you look at Europe and the U.S., the ratio is never that extreme. So, it may turn out to be right that the population is decreasing by moving away from the soil.


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Interesting. I mean, is it safe to say that a structure in which only 1.4% of the population supports the 98.6% who live in urban areas like ours, far from the soil, is going to be okay in the future?


small bridge

That is the reality in Japan, and it will continue to advance further in the future. That is why we must support the 1% who support the 99%.



Cultivating the Earth" as a redefinition of agriculture.


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At this point, I would like to take a few questions from the audience. How about you all?



Let me ask you about plant factory technology. Currently, hydroponics is the mainstream of plant factories, but I have heard that you are "ultimately aiming for a soil-based plant factory. Does that mean that this route is not yet practical because it is still inefficient?



It is difficult to say, but I have been thinking lately that it is not right to use soil because of hydroponics.


As Dr. Fujii mentioned, soil has various powers, and there are many things we don't understand. Trace elements, bacteria, and what they contain are invisible to the eye.


Then there is the function of the soil itself, such as its ability to support plants and buffer against changes in the outside environment, and I think there is a part of us that says "not so" if such forces can be completely replaced by inorganic materials.


It may be a combination of the two, and the end result may be that the "best solution is soil.


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To add to what I have just said, the reason why we don't do plant factories in soil is that hydroponics is done in highly controlled water. It is important to know what nutrients are contained and in what quantities. Also, hydroponics uses very little water. It uses only a fraction of the water that is used for soil, so it is environmentally friendly.


However, soil is difficult to analyze because it contains microorganisms and trace elements. It is also difficult to know, for example, "How many times can I use this soil before the plants stop growing? Farmers use their senses in these areas. That is why plant factories eliminate that.


But if we can create the same functionality as soil in an artificial way, we may be able to put it in a plant factory. That's why we are actually working on a project called "Soil of the Future" at LIVERNESS. In cooperation with a chemical company, we are going to make artificial particles that look like earthworm poop, using polymers and other materials.


It is said that if these efforts are successful, the time will come when we can produce root products like potatoes in plant factories, right, Mr. Kitajima?



You are right. However, I would still like to ask Mr. Fujii about the soil.


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Oh, this is already a joint research decision between Dr. Fujii and the farmship (laughs). It's a collaboration between hydroponics and soil!



After all, the benefits of the soil are dissolved in the water as well, and I think there is a part of us that is using that. However, since we don't know exactly what is going on, our approach to plant factories is a bit arrogant, saying, "Let's get rid of what we don't understand" and "Let's work with what we can control. Nevertheless, I think that essentially, from a biological or scientific point of view, various factors that are not yet understood are necessary for the growth of plants.


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This may finally be Mr. Fujii's time.



No, I've been thinking about plant factories for a while myself. Earlier you argued that culture and plant factories are different. But if you think about it, traditional vegetables, such as kyoyasai (Kyoto vegetables), are originally grown in big cities. They are even called "kyo yasai" (Kyoto vegetables). The reason why they were able to do so was because they were able to spread the poop produced by people in big cities. But now everything is disposed of in the sewage system. I wondered if there was a possibility for plant factories to replace the vegetables that used to be a part of our culture.


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Perhaps the shape of agriculture will change in the future. If all the mechanisms and nutrients of the soil can be analyzed, then the "soil of the future," which Mr. Maru is working on with a chemical company, will itself become a form of agriculture. As long as that soil can be created, crops can be produced. In that sense, we must redefine agriculture from now on.


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So, in January 2019, Kobashi Kogyo released a vision called "Cultivating the Earth". What is this concept?


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Oh, thanks for the good question (laughs).


We, Kobashi Kogyo, have been manufacturing only agricultural machinery for more than 100 years since our establishment in 1910. However, there are so many problems in today's society. The theme of this session, "How to feed 10 billion people," needs to be solved, while the number of agricultural workers is decreasing. In such a situation, what we should do is not only to make agricultural machinery. That is why we came up with the idea of "cultivating the earth.


Of course we will plow the fields as before, but there are many other areas that need to be cultivated. For example, I myself am in favor of plant factories. It is difficult to "keep freshness" in open field cultivation, and it is also vulnerable to disasters. Plant factories are very important even if only in the sense that they can cover this problem. If this is the case, then solving the problem of plant factory operation is one way to "cultivate" the land. In addition, we must cultivate not only the land, but also the sea and the sky. This is what our vision of "cultivating the earth" means.



What is soil? What is agriculture?


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Time flies when you are having fun, but I would like to end this session with a few words from each of you. Let's start with Mr. Kitajima.



I had a good time with your comments and suggestions. There was a discussion earlier about the agricultural population. In Japan, industry is inevitably strong, so it is difficult to attract people to agriculture. In a world of capitalism and free trade, it is inevitable that there will be "competition for resources. However, we would like to show the future of agriculture through the use of cutting-edge technology, so that people will be attracted to the agricultural industry. It is our company's mission to contribute to the development of agriculture, and we hope that you will support us in this endeavor. Thank you very much for your time today.


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Please give a round of applause, everyone. Thank you very much, Mr. Kitajima. Now, Mr. Fujii, please.



Thank you very much for your time today. I have always been a proponent of soil, but even soil can be contaminated by heavy metals, and among soil microorganisms, fusarium, for example, can transmit diseases to bananas.


Of course we are trying our best to control it, but we know it is not that easy. I think it means that we have to tackle the difficult task of soil cultivation while being aware of the possibility of "getting in the way industrially."


Also, although the term "soil cultivation" is commonly used, I think few people understand what it really means. Even in schools, soil is not taught. As for the farming population, the percentage of "agriculture" in the samurai, farmer, artisan, and merchant class was over 90% in the Edo period (1603-1867), and it has decreased to the 1% level today.


I believe that the biggest risk in this country is that almost no one knows what it means to cultivate the soil and what it means to be a farmer. I would like to continue working to change that, even if only a little.


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Thank you very much, Mr. Fujii. Please give a round of applause, everyone. Lastly, a few words from President Kobashi of Kobashi Kogyo, who is also the sponsor of this session.


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Japan has many problems today, and the same is true for agriculture. It does not have to be a large corporation, but a small or medium-sized company like ours can do it.


However, to do so, we still need new knowledge, and I sincerely hope that RIVERNESS and others in this forum will provide us with such new knowledge and help us work together in a cooperative manner. The vision that Kobashi Kogyo has for "cultivating the earth" means that we want to work together with you to solve the problems that humanity is facing.


Thank you so much for coming to this session today.


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Let's have a round of applause, ladies and gentlemen. Under the theme of "Thinking about how to cultivate the earth to feed 10 billion people," I think we have obtained many different perspectives on soil, agriculture, microorganisms, and population. Thanks to all of you who participated in this discussion, it was a very good discussion. Thank you very much for today.



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President and Representative Director, Kobashi Kogyo Co.

Shojiro Kobashi(Mr. Shojiro Kokobashi
Born in Okayama, Japan in 1982. Graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University. Joined Kobashi Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 2008, and became the company's fourth president in 2016. In 1964, he developed Japan's first tillage equipment for large tractors; in 1978, he developed the world's first claw-type plow; in 2006, he developed the world's first auto tiller, Gaia; in 2007, he became the first Japanese company to receive the highest rating of aaa from R&I (Rating and Investment Information, Inc.); in 2008, he became the first Japanese company to receive the highest rating of aaa from R&I (Rating and Investment Information, Inc.). In 2017, underwrote a third-party allotment of new shares of Euglena Co. Established a method of constructing a green beetle cultivation facility using rice paddy cultivation technology, aiming to commercialize a domestic bio-jet and diesel fuel business using abandoned farmland.


Senior Researcher, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, National Forestry Research and Development Institute

Kazushi Fujii(Mr. Kazumichi Fujii
Soil researcher, born in Toyama Prefecture in 1981. D. in Agriculture from the Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University. He has traveled all over the world and all over Japan with a shovel in hand, from the permafrost of the Canadian Arctic to the tropical rainforests of Indonesia, studying the origins of soil and how it can be used sustainably. He is the recipient of the 1st Ecological Society of Japan Incentive Award, the 33rd Soil Science and Fertilizer Society of Japan Incentive Award, and the 15th Japanese Society for the Advancement of Agricultural Sciences Award. His books include "Soil: The Earth's Last Ozoku: In Search of Soil that Feeds 10 Billion People" (Kobunsha), which ranked 12th in the 2019 New Book Awards, and "Daichi no 500 Million Years: Soil and Creatures that Struggled with Each Other" (Yama-to-Keitansha).


Representative Director, Farm Ship Co.

Masahiro Kitajima(Mr. Masahiro Kitajima
In 2014, he and Mizuki Yasuda founded Farmship Co. He is a representative and board member of affiliated companies Fujiyama Green Farm Co, Ocean Co, Discovery Line Co, and MGC Farmix Co. He is in charge of overall group management as well as production technology development, distribution business, and human resource development business. He has experience in establishing and operating five large-scale plant factories throughout Japan. He is involved in the development of production areas where food processing, energy creation/re-energy generation, and environment-related businesses are integrated with agriculture, and also serves as a member of the Shizuoka Prefecture "Council for Creating a Rich Life Supported by Food and Agriculture.


Group CEO and Representative Director, LIVERNESS Co.

Yukihiro Maru(Yukihiro Maru)
D. in Applied Biotechnology, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo. While in graduate school, he founded LIVERNESS, a company solely for science and engineering students. He has developed Japan's first "delivery laboratory class of cutting-edge science" into a business. He operates a "knowledge manufacturing business" that combines management resources and technologies that lie dormant in universities and local communities to create the seeds of new businesses, and has over 200 projects underway through his "knowledge platform," an infrastructure that gathers knowledge from around the world. He is also an innovator who has been involved in the launch of numerous venture companies such as Euglena.