1. Agriculture World

From Waste to Wonder: Tottori’s “Porous Alpha”

Monika Mondal
Monika Mondal

In less than a century, Japan has rebuilt and reconstructed itself more than any other nation on the planet. Very well known for its advancements and the zeal of bringing up innovative technology ridden ideas, Japan always looks back to keep its biodiversity and nature intact. Japan only offers 12% of its total area to agriculture and the rest is dedicated to the mountains and the biodiversity which makes the maximum of its land.

Shrinking land area is a problem which not onlyJapan faces but is a matter of concern throughout the globe. Data has suggested that the population explosion will augment the number of living beings, to about 9.5 billion by 2050. Shrinking land, deteriorating quality of soil and water scarcity are few of the global problems which shrieks for a solution. Tottori Resource Recycling Inc. from Japan addressed all of these problems with one solution. Turning the waste glass bottles into a soil treatment is what the “Porous Alpha”is devised for.

Porous Alpha is a breakthrough in soil treatment solutions, which can reduce the consumption of water by 50% along with increasing the productivity, as stated by the company representative. The company’s earlier experiments with tomatoes and green beans, in the semi arid area, in Morocco, Africa have shown sanguine results about the feasibility of the project.

Ms. Maki Swada, International business manager, Tottori Resource Recycling Inc. tells AgricultureWorld, “ Pulverized glass is burnt with additives such as shells and calcium carbonate in controlled temperature and environment to make soil conditioner from total waste.”

Currently the company’s only plant is situated in Japan’s Tottori prefecture, which faces the sea of Japan and has largest sand dunes. The faculty of Agriculture of Tottori University has long been engaged in the development of technology to cultivate crops in the sandy soil and with this development in 2004, it has been gathering the support of international agencies like IOM,UNIDO along with the governmental support from Japan.

Tottori around the world :

The various pilot projects which tested the worth of Porous Alpha in diversified regions include Morocco (2015), Mauritania (2008). Located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia also retorted positive of the pilot project started in 2016. Home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, Peru was also exposed to the experimentation in the year 2018. Other pilot projects aiming for soil amendment are located in India, China and Malaysia including others.

What is this soil rejuvenator comprises of :

Ms. Sawada says, “Porous Alpha is mainly composed of silica and calcium oxide, similar to the chemical composition of natural sand. Since Porous Alpha has numerous pores inside, it can retain not only the irrigation water but also the liquid fertilizer, which amounts to water saving and also increases the yield at the same time.

“Chemically this product, which comes in varied sizes and dimensions depending on the need of the medium by the crop, is composed of 62% of SiO2, 24.7 % of CaO, 8.6% of Na2O. Other minor elements are 2% of K2O, 1.7% of Al2O3,1% Fe2O3 and less than 1% comprises of other components like Ti, Cr, Mn, Ni, S, etc.

How it works :

Porous Alpha can be used for various agricultural practices. It can be used for water saving, medium for plant growth, better aeration in the soil etc. Asa media for bio filtration, the microbes supported inside Porous Alpha decomposes the source of odor and hence can be a fit for the poultry and chicken abattoir facilities. It can also be used for water treatment via adsorption and desorption of fluorine and phosphorous ions. Tomato, Green beans, Pepper, Leaf Vegetables, Wheat, Orange and Sweet potatoes are few of the crops which has received affirmative results from the unique characteristics of this product by optimizing the water retention & infiltration in the soil and reducing the usage of fertilizers by 50%.Because of the pores which are produced by burning the pulverised glass mixed with foaming agents such as shell powder or calcium carbonate, the water retention capacity of the soil increases which can retain 15% of its total volume. Based on the results of leaching test, Porous Alpha does not have any problem related to heavy metal or toxication of the soil.

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