Synecoculture™ and Augmented Ecosystems

Agriculture that overcomes the trade-off between productivity and environmental damage

Humans have engaged in agriculture for more than 10,000 years. The history of agriculture involves a constant trade-off between productivity and environmental impact. Modern agriculture is still situated along the same line, further loading the environment to realize physiological optimum in large-scale monoculture. Meanwhile, when we look back at the history of Earth's biosphere, plants have co-evolved in their ecosystems, creating complex, competitive mechanisms of symbiosis. This process brought substantial changes to the environment, a change that proceeded in favor of plants. Against this background, proponents of symbiotic agriculture believe the ecosystem's self-distributed, highly self-organizing power promises the ecologically optimal approach to growing crops. They propose that the same thinking be applied to other primary industries, to help overcome the deep-rooted trade-off between productivity and environmental degradation. 

Synecoculture is a method of farming that produces useful plants while making multifaceted use of the self-organizing ability of the earth’s ecosystem.  It is characterized by a comprehensive ecosystem utilization method that considers not only food production but also the impacts on the environment and health.

More specifically, "Synecoculture is a method of open-field agriculture that - without the use of any plowing, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, or anything else except for seeds and saplings - allows for the creation and management of ecosystems that bring out essential qualities of the plants growing in natural state, and produces practically useful crops in ecologically optimized environment." (Source: Synecoculture Manual)

The original concept of Synecoculture was created by Takashi Otsuka of the Sakura Shizenjuku Global Nature Network, and Masatoshi Funabashi of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) has scientifically formalized and verified it. We are now working on implementation and improvement.

In 2015, we introduced Synecoculture using 150 local crops on desertified land where natural recovery was impossible at an experimental farm of Burkina Faso. It reversed desertification in a year, succeeded in restoring a rich forest ecosystem filled with edible species.

International symposiums on Synecoculture in Africa

CARFS (Centre Africain de Recherche et de Formation en Synécoculture) has been established in Burkina Faso in Sub-Saharan Africa to follow up on the scientific results of Synecoculture and to increase its adoption. Funabashi serves as Directeur Scientifique.

UniTwin UNESCO CS-DC e-lab, a virtual laboratory on the Complex Systems Digital Campus of the UNESCO UniTwin program, has been established - you can find the latest information and activities here.

Funabashi also founded The Synecoculture Association in order to spread the word about the scientific results of Synecoculture throughout society.

In November 2019, we have started an urban Synecoculture proof of concept trial at the rooftop gardens at Roppongi Hills. We will introduce Synecoculture and create augmented ecosystem on the urban rooftop. We plan to form the basis for the creation of a Synecoculture-related learning platform with the development of "Synecoculture Principles Learning Kit".

Synecoculture is also registered on the Japan SDGs Action Platform Good Practices by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Synecoculture in short movies:

Renewing agriculture to rebuild a broken environment Sony Computer Science Laboratories,Inc.(Sony) (5:46)

The Challenge to Global Agenda - Paradigm Shifts in Food Production and Agriculture- (Sony) (4:23)

Synecoculture short movie (17:03)

Keynote: Synecoculture and Megadiversity Management Systems (27:01)


# “Synecoculture” is a trademark of Sony Group Corporation. 
#  Please see here on the details of the Trademark Usage.