An image of the "iCAST"
An image of the "iCAST"
[Click to enlarge image]

Mitsui Chemicals Inc started to develop a business using a new crop cultivation system that exploits the growth capabilities of vegetables.

The system, "iCAST (integrated Cultivation-Accelerating Systems," consists of a "liquid supply tank" and "crop cultivation tubes." And vegetables absorb necessary amounts of water, fertilizer and pesticides depending on their growth statuses.

The most distinguished feature of the iCAST is the "iCALM (integrated Cultivation-Accelerating Materials," special materials attached to the crop cultivation tubes. The iCALM can retain air in addition to water, fertilizer and pesticides supplied from the liquid supply tank.

"(With the iCALM,) crops can absorb them whenever and as much as they want," Mitsui Chemicals said.

The company calls it "vegetable-dependent growth element supply function."

With the system, crop yields and qualities are expected to improve. Also, it hardly leaks water, fertilizer and pesticides into the ground, enabling to reduce their amounts and, thus, environmental load. When Mitsui Chemicals tested the system by using wheat, corn, soybean, etc, their yields increased by 50-60% while the amounts of water and pesticides were reduced by 90% or more and 70% or more, respectively, compared with conventional cultivation methods.

The company will select "expansion and development partners" that are well versed in the agricultural market in the aim of expanding the iCAST business on a global scale. And it will start a field test in the spring of 2014 to commercialize the business at an early date.