“The Soil is the Future” in Delivering Deliciousness 100 years from Now
All foods draw life from the soil.
Rich soil contains a wealth of microorganisms.
Safe, delicious foods grown in such soils impart vitality to people, and this in turn will vitalize regions and Japan itself.
Cultivating the soil is to cultivate the future of the country. Watami Organic will produce food from local resources, process it, then make effective use of any secondary materials produced by recycling it and returning it to the soil.
We want to protect the future of food through our sustained effort to cultivate the soil without placing a burden on the environment. The deliciousness of food 100 years from now and the soil at our feet are interconnected.
“The soil is the future.”
This phrase conveys our hope to vitalize people, Japan and the future through our effort to nurture healthy soil.
In the past, vegetables were seasonal and they were only grown during a particular season. But today, tomatoes, cucumbers, daikon radishes and carrots are available all the time, and their prices do not fluctuate much.
Huge quantities of vegetables can be grown with stability anytime, and this is made possible by chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Because crops absorb nutrients from the soil, fields grow progressively lean. This makes it necessary to replenish nutrients in order to continue growing crops in the same field. That is why chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used. They allow the easy replenishing of necessary nutrients, and the stable growing of huge quantities of crops. This was important in propping up our lives.
However, this has a negative effect on microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms break down the nutrients in the soil, and provide nutrition to worms and moles that soften the soil. But fields where chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used become depleted of microorganisms.
This in turn results in nutrients in the soil not being broken down, leading to hardening of the soil and nutrients not being released. This further increases the use of chemical fertilizers to overcome the lack of nutrients. Excess pesticides and chemical fertilizers then leach out of the soil into water systems, further exacerbating the situation. Today, fields are deteriorating throughout the world.
The soil found on organic farms is so soft that your feet sink into it. Making this soil requires the breathing of life into it.
The soil is plowed to aerate it, and compost is mixed into it to create an environment for the microorganisms to breed. The presence of more microorganisms attracts more small animals that feed on them, which in turn move around to loosen the soil.
Soft, well-aerated soil retains more water and oxygen. This stimulates the growth of the roots of crops, which further loosen the soil. Crops that complement one another are grown in rotation to maintain the balance of nutrients in the soil.
Synergy between microorganisms in the soil nurtured in this way creates an environment and nutrients necessary for the growth of crops.
At Watami, we go one step beyond crop rotation and use of green manure, and make compost from food residues, materials from the thinning of local plantations as part of activities to restore forests, etc., to nurture soil with the aim of cycling local resources.
There is still a lot we do not grasp the effects of microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms that are beneficial under certain environmental conditions may have negative effects under other conditions. Microorganisms can promote fermentation to release nutrients, and they also promote decay. We will study these microorganisms, make use of their power, and coexist with them in cultivating crops.
We will nurture healthy soil, and cultivate healthy crops. We believe this is a practical method for the Earth from a long-term perspective.
It goes without saying that pesticides and chemical fertilizers play a vital role in the cultivation of huge quantities of crops. At the moment, organic farming is still more labor intensive and expensive, and there are still many issues regarding stable production. But we want to establish a cultivation method based on the nurturing of soil in preparation for the future. That is why we will continue our challenge to nurture soil.