Taiheiyo Cement concludes contract for research into Fukushima agricultural land reclamation

Taiheiyo Cement concludes contract for research into Fukushima agricultural land reclamation
Published: 20 October 2015

Taiheiyo Cement Corp of Japan has concluded a contract for collaborative research with the Fukushima
Future Center for Regional Revitalisation of Fukushima University and commenced research using
Minamisoma City as a case study.

The goal is to promote research into preserving and utilising agricultural land damaged by the 2011 Earthquake and to respond to the need for regional revitalisation and agricultural recovery through recovering agricultural land by cultivating 'energy crops'1 and converting them into energy.

Two-pronged approach
The preservation and usage of underutilised agricultural land and the revitalisation of regional agriculture
will be promoted via a two-pronged approach:

1. Using Taiheiyo Cement’s biomass-related technologies to cultivate sorghum2 and other energy crops in abandoned farmland and  generating electricity by fermenting them to produce methane
2. producing cooking oil and biodiesel fuel through the cultivation of rape blossoms and other oil-bearing crops.

Taiheiyo said an economy of scale provided by 500-1000ha is necessary to ensure profitability through
business development specialised to the production of energy crops, which makes the introduction of such technology unlikely in Japan at present. The current research aims for efficient and integrated land-use by a combination of the following:
・Selection of energy crops suited to the climate of Minamisoma City
・Maximisation of yield per unit area by a double-cropping system of rape blossoms and other
oil-bearing crops
・Usage of methane fermentation residue as a liquid fertilizer.

Taiheiyo will also investigate business development such as local energy supply through biogas
generation using methane fermented from energy crops in the future.

The company is currently experimenting with the cultivation of several varieties of energy crop in the
fields of Minamisoma and is conducting investigations into their methane generation efficiency by
fermentation, while Specially Appointed Associate Professor Hideki Ishii of Fukushima University is
surveying the current state of land use of the area.

Moving forward, Taiheiyo Cement will evaluate biomass and energy production per unit area, and Fukushima University will estimate energy production potential of Minamisoma
as a case study.

Furthermore, the local Minamisoma Agricultural Land Reclamation Council are cooperating by managing cultivation and optimising farming work, providing guidance in the construction of planting systems, as well as in other ways.

Taiheiyo Cement has worked to dispose of waste generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake
and to develop decontamination technologies for agricultural land contaminated by radiation.

1 Energy crop: a plant grown primarily as a source of energy or as a product material.
2 Sorghum: an annual plant similar to corn that grows exceptionally quickly. Primarily used as green manure and fodder.