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Latest Information 2015 Vol. 452

Harvesting of tomatoes cultivated in a joint research field of Chiba University started

In cooperation with Chiba University, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. is conducting empirical research to establish technologies to stably produce tomatoes with high sugar content. The tomatoes planted in November last year at a solar power vegetable factory of Chiba University are grown naturally and ready to be harvested.

The greenhouse field for joint study is located at the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences of Chiba University, near the Kashiwanoha Campus Station on the Tsukuba Express Line. There, in the 2,000 m2 research facilities, a so-called solar power vegetable factory, with ideally controlled temperature, humidity, and CO2 concentrations, the empirical cultivation of tomatoes using sand as the cultivation medium and Sandponics™* is ongoing.

The research is currently focusing on improving the production volume of high-quality, high-sugar tomatoes by further developing our many years of sand-based cultivation technology. It is known that the sugar content of tomatoes could be increased by limiting the moisture supplied (water stress provision). However, optimally controlling the moisture is difficult, often reducing the weight per tomato and thus the yield per field.

Sumitomo Electric is developing technology to achieve a stable increase of yield by further sophisticating the feature of Sandponics™, which freely controls water stress. More specifically, based on technology to feed water from bottom medium, we are developing a new Sandponics™ (see figure below).

In addition, by significantly reducing this technology’s equipment costs, we hope that more farmers find it easier to adopt the sand cultivation technology. Also, by preventing water evaporation from the surface of the cultivation medium, overall water consumption can be reduced, thus enabling the technology to be used in areas of water shortage in the future.

Currently, we are achieving favorable results on the quality and yield of tomatoes. For market evaluation, we delivered some of the harvested tomatoes and so far have received positive responses such as "delicious and sweet" from many customers.

Sumitomo Electric would like to address the increasing needs for high-quality foods in the world by industrializing agriculture through the integration of Sandponics™ and our various technologies such as energy and information.

* Sandponics™ is a vegetable cultivation system using sand as a cultivation medium. Since the 1970s, Sumitomo Electric has been developing Sandponics™, a cultivation system consisting of sand as a cultivation medium and automatic water and fertilizer feed functions, in order to industrialize agriculture, which often depends on farmer's experience/intuition and natural conditions.

Professor Toru Maruo (Faculty of Horticulture, Chiba University)

Professor Toru Maruo (Faculty of Horticulture, Chiba University)

Currently, we are working together to integrate Sumitomo Electric’s sand cultivation technology and Chiba University’s environmental control and culture fluid control technologies. We are achieving steady improvement. We expect further development by taking advantage of a variety of core technologies of Sumitomo Electric.

Keiichiro Matsuo (New Business Frontier R&D Labs)

Keiichiro Matsuo (New Business Frontier R&D Labs)

With support from people at Chiba University, we are conducting demonstration experiments. Beautifully ripe red tomatoes make me feel that our efforts so far are being rewarded.

New Business Frontier R&D Laboratories

Sumitomo Electric concludes an agreement with Saga Prefectural Regional Industry Support Center for installation of a synchrotron radiation beamline

Construction site situation
Construction site situation

Sumitomo Electric has concluded an agreement with Saga Prefectural Regional Industry Support Center for installation of a synchrotron radiation beamline* at the Kyushu Synchrotron Light Research Center. The research center is managed and operated by the regional industry support center, and the beamline scheduled to start operation during FY2016 is used for material analysis by the Sumitomo Electric Group.

Synchrotron radiation is very bright light consisting of a wide range of wavelengths from infrared to X-ray, enabling highly precise and sensitive analyses by employing X-rays more than 10,000 times stronger than commercially available X-ray light sources. Sumitomo Electric has so far utilized synchrotron radiation in various fields such as basic study of materials and product development. However, the Company believes it is increasingly important to develop atomic and molecular level analytical technologies in order to continue creating innovative products in the future. Under this situation, the Sumitomo Electric Group decided to establish a permanent beamline facility that the Group could use at any time at the Kyushu Synchrotron Light Research Center.

* The synchrotron radiation beamline is a facility consisting of optical devices to guide synchrotron radiation to samples being tested and the analyzers actually measuring various data.

Analysis Technology Research Center

Ceremony to Provide Monetary Contributions to University Courses and Financial Support for Academic and Research Activities

The SEI Group CSR Foundation* is engaged in providing monetary contributions to university courses, support for academic and research activities, and granting of scholarships, with the purpose of contributing toward the development of human resources and the promotion of academic activities in various fields both in Japan and overseas.

On Tuesday, March 3, we held a ceremony to provide monetary contributions to university courses and financial support for academic and research activities. The event was attended by 12 university course instructors, and 14 academic and research instructors.

At the ceremony, instructors, including those from university courses selected as new recipients of our monetary contributions, explained their research results. The ceremony also served as a good opportunity for those involved in the foundation and instructors in a wide range of fields to interact with each other.

* SEI Group CSR Foundation: In April 2009, this organization was established with the purpose of contributing toward the development of human resources and the promotion of academic activities in various fields both in Japan and overseas. In February 2010, the foundation was certified as a public interest incorporated foundation.

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