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Thursday, Sep. 1, 2011

Farmer recovers tsunami-hit land


With the aid of bacteria that lowers the level of sodium in soil, a farmer in the city of Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture, harvested 150 tomatoes last month on farmland that was swamped by the March 11 tsunami.

News photo
Vine-ripened: Volunteers harvest tomatoes in Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Aug. 20. KYODO

The cyanobacteria — also called blue-green algae — is found in seawater and sludge on the seafloor. Since it consumes salt when it photosynthesizes, it lowers the level of sodium when mixed in soil.

Farmer Etsuo Iizuka, 62, used the soil on his 1,000-sq.-meter tsunami-damaged farm to plant 400 tomato plants in June. Each yielded about 10 tomatoes.

"The new method uses sludge left on the farmland," said Kazuma Nishitsuji, 29, president of My Farm, a Kyoto-based agricultural consultancy that developed the method. "We hope to use it on rice fields as well."

About 20 volunteers helped pick the tomatoes on Aug. 20.

"I'm happy the tomatoes grew better than expected," said Iizuka. "I want to make it a local brand."

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