Kind of an interesting idea, but the idea that straw would be free is kind of strange. The only reason there is so much straw to begin with is that Japanese agriculture is so petroleum-dependent in the first place. No one has to worry about returning the straw nutrients to the soil, because petroleum-based fertilizers will keep the system in balance. There is no way that, given current farming practice, there would be anything like a sustainable volume of biofuel. There would instead be a continuous drain of nutrients from the soil that would eventually lead to sterile farm land.
Why don't they work instead on ending their dependence on oil?
Automotive World - Japan: Government plans low-cost rice straw to biofuel production process
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Although I plan to plant rice without cultivation, I was offered a small tractor, a "kounki" (耕うン機）in Japanese. It isn't a riding tractor, but one you walk behind. One of the reasons that I am going to plant without cultivation, aside from Fukuoka's proscription, is that I don't have enough money to buy farm equipment. Since I got this one for free, I gratefully accepted it. One of the farmers I'm learning from, a student of Fukuoka's for some years, cultivates to a very shallow depth, and then plants. He does it so he can cover over the seeds better than just using straw, because he has a problem with birds eating his seeds. I may try one field cultivated, and the other one not and see how it goes, especially since this year I won't have the advantage of being able to cover the seeds with wheat straw since this is my first year of planting.
The kounki that I got is also nice because it's diesel, so if petroleum goes the way of the dodo or just gets too expensive to use, I may be able to switch to biodiesel.