Actions to re-energize local agriculture
From 1997 Izumibashi and member farmers of Sagami Sake Rice Association continue to increases cultivation areas little by little. In 2012 we grow rice at Ebina-city, Zama-city and Sagamihara-city. We borrow rice fields from many land owners at each area and grow rice. Some of the fields we are borrowing now used to be wasted or lying idle (*1). By cultivating these wasted fields, we can contribute to preserve the beautiful country view and the agricultural environment. Izumibashi think together with local people about future actions to re-energize local agriculture industry. (*1) Wasted rice fields are one of the serious issues for Japanese agriculture industry and main reason for this is the shortage of successors for the agricultural business.
Actions to preserve natural environment – agriculture to save dragonflies
Izumibashi believe this is our responsibility to pass the rice fields to our future generations with good condition. One of the action for this is to reduce the usage of agrichemicals. Based on the regulations for the agrichemical usage in Kanagawa prefecture, rice producers were allowed to use 14 kinds of agrichemicals. (Kanagawa is one of the strictest prefectures for usage of agrichemicals in Japan). To reduce the usage of agrichemicals, we introduced hot water sterilization for rice seeds, which does not have to use chemical disinfectant. Also we reduce the usage of fertilizer and make the rice lean and healthy enough to keep pests and disease out. In 2011, the usage of agrichemical at Sagami Sake Rice Association was 60% reduced from Kanagawa prefectural regulation. In the rice production at Izumibashi fields, we achieved 91 to 100% reduction from the regulation.
We experiment to fill the rice fields with water in the winter time with the help by Kanagawa prefectural government, irrigation association and Ebina-city. This will have effects for making the soil of rice fields rich and healthy and increase the ecosystem diversity.
Fun activity – investigate living creatures at rice fields
Unless we dive into the fields, search and record living creatures, it is difficult to find out the effect of our actions such as reducing usage of agrichemicals and filling fields with water in winter. Every year we investigate the living creatures in the rice fields and record the results. The method of investigation is we catch insects and record the variations and numbers. It is fun to catch insects like childhood and also motivates us to preserve our natural environment. We hope this actions ends up with brewing more tasty sake.
Recently, we are invited to the summer program at local elementary school and have a class about “Living Creatures of Rice Fields”.
Collaboration with local specialty
There are so many local specialties in Kanagawa prefecture. For example, Japanese plum at Soga Odawara-city is well-known for its long history and quality. Also, production amount for strawberry in Ebina-city is no.1 in Kanagawa prefecture. Izumibashi is making liqueur by flavored with Japanese plum and strawberry from each producer. We make liqueur by bottling these specialty fruits into junmai-shu.