Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reviving lost farmlands

Welcome back to JJNN.

Today's article is from the Yomiuri Online.

In the ancient times when a group conquered a town in battle it was said that the victor would sow the fields with salt so that no one would be able to grow any crops in those fields again. Turning our eye back to modern Japan, the same sort of thing happened to the northeast after the earthquake of March. Of course no one actually sowed the fields with salt, but the tsunami that resulted from the earthquake brought a lot of sea salt up onto land and into people's fields.

Professor Nakai from Tohoku University believes he not only found a solution for the salted fields, but might have found a good way for the entire farming community to rebuild itself. That solution comes in the form of a plant that produces yellow flowers and has the unfortunate name of the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed plants are known for being highly resistant to salty fields and even end up leaching the salt of the field over time. The seeds can be used to make oil or even bio-diesel fuel.

 Professor Nakai and his team are using this year to test out 30 different types rapeseed and see how much they all reduce the amount of salt in the soil. They are using 1.4 hectares in a place called Wakabayashi that was effected by the tsunami in order to test the plants. If all works out well the rapeseed plants will be used not only to take the salt out of soil, but to also be used as a cash crop in the mean time. Professor Nakai hopes the rapeseed plant will be a symbol of the northeast Japan coming back to life.

It is  now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 塩(しお). It is pronounced shio and it means salt.

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