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Adaptive Strategy (2010)

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Climate change adaptation strategies

Reducing agricultural loss due to plant disease, testing low carbon technologies and developing scenarios using abandoned or idle agricultural land.

Description

This year, we conducted statistical surveys on the occurrence of plant disease in Japan. The results indicated that Japanese agriculture also suffers from over 30% losses due to plant disease. We also conducted statistical surveys on domestic energy and agriculture to determine that a 50% reduction in plant disease would result in a 0.30% reduction of CO2 emissions at 1990 levels.

However, we also discovered that statistical surveys on plant disease occurrence were being carried out independently by local governments and that there was no unity regarding survey targets or survey and calculation methods. It is therefore difficult to correctly ascertain the extent of agricultural loss in Japan due to plant disease. Since the situation regarding plant disease varies greatly from year to year depending on the weather, temperature and other factors, we believe it is essential to create a continuous and organized nationwide system to monitor agricultural loss due to plant disease. Also, with the expected outbreak of new plant diseases due to global warming, we must urgently develop plant diagnosis techniques that are able to respond to climate change.

We are also conducting social experiments to promote the establishment of a plant doctor training program and a plant disease monitoring and information system. This year, we are conducting a social experiment in Kashiwa City, and so we carried out an awareness survey in Kashiwa to ascertain how many people knew about our plant doctor training program. We distributed a total of 141,516 questionnaires and received responses from as many as 7,000 people, even though there were many questions. This indicates considerable interested by the people of Kashiwa in plant doctors. The majority of respondents were in their 60's and above, and showed a strong interest in preventing plant disease. Since we expect senior citizens to play a major role in preventing plant disease, this gives high hopes for future development. Practically all respondents replied 'yes' to the question: would you go to a plant doctor for advice if there was one nearby? Over 70% also replied that they would give assistance to volunteer plant doctors. This indicates both a large potential demand, and a large prospective support structure.

Regarding the realization of carbon storage in abandoned agricultural land, the reduction of agricultural fertilizers and chemicals, and strengthening tolerance towards plant disease, we collaborated with the National Institute for Environmental Studies Center for Global Environmental Research to compile an Inventory Report on Greenhouse Gases in Japan. We also conducted various other independent studies including on carbon fixation. As a result, we were able to determine that by cultivating plants capable of storing high levels of CO2 in abandoned agricultural land, it would be possible to store 0.39% to 1.82% of the 1990 level of CO2 emissions in the soil. While the economic effects of storing carbon in abandoned cultivated land do not extend to that of emissions trading, because of the low initial investment, it is more efficient than solar cell panels or bioethanol. Other expectations from carbon capture include the continuous creation of jobs that do not rely on the temporary construction of infrastructure, food security (1.46 trillion yen) as a result of agricultural land management, and ensuring the multifaceted functions of agricultural land (260 billion yen).

This year, we conducted statistical surveys on the actual agricultural losses due to plant disease, a major issue in the transition towards low carbon agriculture. We also conducted trial calculations on how much CO2 emissions could be cut by reducing agricultural loss due to plant disease, and on the potential carbon storage possible by cultivating plants capable of storing high levels of carbon. Next year, we are planning to design a plant doctor system that will form the basis for achieving our objectives. We will also conduct a trial training program and certification exam for plant doctors, and conduct case studies of low carbon agriculture technologies.