Improving rice production in Japan: optimal results through collaboration

The field trials will be held during the 2023 growing season. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

BASF, Kubota and ZEN-NOH will collaborate to help improve and optimise rice production in Japan

The collaboration consists of two phases, beginning with the integration of BASF’s advanced xarvio FIELD MANAGER crop optimisation platform with Kubota’s state-of-the art KSAS operating platform to assess operability.

The main aim of platform integration is to deliver greater convenience, increase yield, optimise fertiliser use, and provide a higher return on investment for farmers. This outcome would tackle many of the challenges affecting rice production in Japan, including an ageing workforce, labour shortages, and the consolidation of farmland. It would also help farmers become more sustainable, globally competitive and meet established fertiliser reduction targets listed in the country’s MeaDRI strategy for sustainable food systems.

Phase two of the collaboration will test the performance of platform integration through field trials in rice crops, which will be managed by ZEN-NOH.

The field trials will be held during the 2023 growing season and involve farmers experienced with using xarvio FIELD MANAGER, Kubota’s KSAS platform and its machinery. Here, farmers will use the KSAS platform and Kubota rice transplanters to implement field-specific, xarvio FIELD MANAGER variable application maps for fertilisation.

The results of these new field trials will complement those achieved in more than 100 field trials conducted in rice crops last year by ZEN-NOH and BASF. In last year’s field trials, xarvio FIELD MANAGER’s variable application maps for fertilisation were used and compared to standard fertilisation application practices. By using xarvio FIELD MANAGER’s variable application maps, yield increases of 15% to 20% were achieved, with an average fertiliser input reduction of 10% recorded. In some cases, depending on field conditions, fertiliser use was reduced by up to 50%.

Konstantin Kretschun, global head of BASF Digital Farming, commented, “Rice farmers in Japan recognise the need to become more sustainable and globally competitive, while reducing environment impacts and meeting MeaDRI strategy targets. Climate smart farming technology provides a proven, effective and available solution to help them achieve these goals. By working closely with Kubota and our valued partner in ZEN-NOH to connect offerings, we can together deliver even greater value to farmers and positively transform rice production in Japan.”

In April 2021, BASF and ZEN-NOH launched xarvio FIELD MANAGER in Japan. Its success, particularly its strong adoption rate among farmers, is based on its ability to deliver consistent, field-specific, measurable agronomic benefits. The digital product uses proven plant models and agronomic algorithms in combination with multiple data inputs, including historical agronomic information, in-season risks, weather data and satellite-based biomass images to provide farmers with clear and prompt, field-specific agronomic recommendations to apply crop fertilisation and crop protection.

By connecting xarvio FIELD MANAGER with Kubota’s powerful KSAS farming and service support system, the seamless transfer and use of xarvio FIELD MANAGER’s variable application maps for fertilisation by KSAS compatible rice transplanters is realised, without the need for an added device for data transfer.

It is anticipated that full integration between xarvio FIELD MANAGER and Kubota’s KSAS platform will be commercially available in Japan from spring 2024.

Read more about how Japan is tackling its aging labour force in agriculture here.