Conventional agriculture largely focuses on increasing productivity from a single crop, by plowing top soil, spreading fertilizer, and applying pesticides based on the characteristics of the crop. These practices damage ecosystems and cause other environmental problems. Masatoshi Funabashi, researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) and associate researcher at ISC-PIF, has developed Synecoculture™, which brings new life to an ecosystem without tilling, fertilization, or pesticides.
Synecoculture is a sustainable agricultural practice that balances productivity with the need to reduce environmental impact. It eliminates the need for plowing, fertilizing, and pesticide use that impact the environment, by taking maximum advantage of the material cycling that occurs naturally in ecosystems, aiming to create rich ecosystems with a diverse mix of plants that coexist together and grow lushly. Synecoculture requires vast knowledge of plant ecology, and for several years Sony CSL has been conducting tests at a number of farms, cultivating a blend of plants in order to collect data on plant compatibility and soil conditions. Sony CSL is also using IT to develop systems to support greater social ecological diversity including Synecoculture. The Synecoculture project is directly related to 11 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is registered as a good corporate practice with the Japan SDGs Action Platform promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.