Mar. 4, 2019 – Mar. 11 marks the 8th anniversary of Japan’s Tohuku earthquake. The tsunami that followed led to the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which spread radioactive materials throughout the area. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Mar. 1 Soils Matter blog explores the impact this has had on the farming village of Iitate, Japan.

Dan Ferreira, a researcher at Kennesaw State University, GA has collaborated with Japanese researchers in rural Fukushima. He observed the hardships farmers in the area have endured.

“They have to deal with the health hazards created by the presence of this dangerous radioactive pollutant in their soil,” Ferreira says. “They had to comply with a 5-year mandatory evacuation that ensued. When they returned, it was to farm fields which have had their nutrient-rich topsoil removed and replaced with a barren fill material. It is very difficult now for farm fields to grow crops as effectively as they used to, and farmers are still struggling with how to farm in this region where the soil fertility has deteriorated so much.”

Additionally, any items grown on their land are met with suspicion from consumers. “People are scared to buy food grown in Iitate Village, despite the fact that all food is rigorously tested and proven to be safe. Many farmers have now taken to growing non-food products such as tobacco or flowers, which are easier to sell. They do not, however, bring as high a price as the rice or vegetables that are typically produced in this region.”

“Many of the families living in this region have been farming this land for as long as 300 years. For these farmers, the deep connection between their families and the land is not so easily abandoned. They will continue to work the soil that their family has farmed for generations and hope that scientists will be able to help them solve the problems.”

Read the entire post here. A second part, to be released Mar. 15, will explore researchers’ efforts to manage the soil contamination.

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