The city of Suwa stands deep in Nagano prefecture on the shores of Lake Suwa, famous for its hot springs. It also boasts an ancient history with Japan’s second-oldest shrine, the Suwa Taisha, dedicated to Takeminakata-no-kami, the god of the eastern provinces who presided over wind, water and agriculture.
Like many in the region, Kodai Noguchi’s family have lived off Suwa land for generations by farming rice and silk. This was until Kodai’s grandfather turned his attention to growing apples, which have their own ancient history in Japan. Although the first apples are recorded in Japan around 918 CE, brought from China during the Heian Period, they are said to have been present for even longer.
Working side by side
Today, the family farm on three hectares across three fields, cultivating different varieties of apple, such as Sukwakko, ShinanoDolce, and the Fuji.
Japan’s apple farmers must today adapt and innovate to ensure healthy and abundant harvests. That’s why for over a year now, Kodai has been working alongside UPL representatives. Using inputs such as UPL’s Trichode soil and orthocide to support pollination, soil health and root growth, he also says, “we have been able to solve the issue of soil diseases on the apple fields thanks to Tricode soil. As a result, we have been able to recover the growth of our apple trees.”
Small changes, big impact
Like many farmers, sustainability is vital to maintain Kodai’s livelihood, so he has taken steps such as reducing the spraying times of spider mite control by selecting inputs with reduced environmental impacts. Small adaptations like these go a long way towards tackling sustainability issues. But implementing sustainable practices isn’t always easy: Kodai has found he experiences more disease outbreaks that he attributes to pest resistance to industrially applied agrochemicals.
Joining the legacy
Once Kodai graduates from university, he intends to start managing the farm with his father. In time, Hero plans to increase the number of farm employees, expand its acreage, and grow local sales in Suwa. In doing so, he’ll become part of a new apple growing family tradition with roots stretching back a thousand years. At UPL, we look forward to supporting Kodai as he sustains an ancient legacy on the lands of Takeminakata-no-kami.