Wednesday, October 7, 2015

No. 879: Increasing the competitive edge of Japanese agriculture (October 8, 2015)

It goes without saying that Japan has to increase the competitive edge of its agriculture to cope with the agreement on the picture of the PPT negotiations. Hitachi and the Softbank Group have jointly announced that they will launch the “e-kakashi (scarecrow or bird scanner), which is the support system to help farmers confirm crop’s growing environment, on the 14th of October. Farmers can confirm easily the growing environment of their crop by installing a device that incorporates a senor in their fields to secure the quality of their products.

The new service asks farmers to install a special device with a sensor to measure such data as temperature, amount of insolation, and soil moisture. Collected data will be transmitted to cloud automatically and farmers can see them with their smartphones. No initial setting is required, and what farmers have to do is just switching on the system. Every farmer can operate this system quite easily. The special device can run continuously for three years on the condition that it measures the environment every 10 minutes. Farmers can pick the function to show the optimal environment depending on such growth stages as seeding and sprouting. The system is available for 749,600 yen and up excluding tax, and users have to pay usage charge of 7,980 yen per month. Hitachi builds the device using its internet-of-things technology.

Yano Research Institute, one of Japan’s leading research firms, predicts that the Japanese domestic market of smart agriculture, which is supported by IT technology for better efficiency, will increase to about 31 billion yen in 2020, five times bigger than in 2013. The JAKurikyo in Miyagi Prefecture is scheduled to introduce the system on trial ahead of other agricultural cooperatives with the expectation that the system will help stabilize crop’s quality. 

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