About ISAS

Message from the Director

Message

The Institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services (ISAS) was established in 2010 by integrating several affiliated facilities of the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Science, the University of Tokyo. In modern agriculture, we are expected to not only improve the efficiency of food and material production, but also contribute to the improvement of the global environment by minimizing the burden on the local environment and ecosystems, and sustain the survival of human beings. Research is required to ensure that "academic" is subdivided as it develops, but in "agricultural science", it is necessary to deepen each specialized field and at the same time to integrate knowledge through collaboration between fields. For example, conventional molecular genetic research has mainly been conducted using data obtained in an artificially stable environment in a laboratory, but for several years, genes in fluctuating natural environments in the field have been used; we are advancing to the stage of more practical research. In addition, agricultural research using image data of paddy fields and fields taken by drones, UAVs, etc. has begun to be actively conducted. In "satochi" and "satoyama", which are widely seen in Japan, comprehensive ecosystem management including grasslands, forests, and water systems has supported sustainable agricultural production. Agricultural technology developed in the 20th century contributed to the efficient production of food and materials that support population growth, but it also put a burden on the environment. Due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident that occurred in 2011, a vast amount of agricultural land became unusable. Now is the time to gather the wisdom of "agricultural science" and rebuild a sustainable production system in harmony with the ecosystem. With our various "fields" that include cultivated land (fields, paddy fields, orchards), green areas, and forests, and all methods such as biology, chemistry, engineering, information science, and social science, we are trying to practice integrated education and research in agriculture.


The Tanashi Campus, where our institute is located, has cultivated land, forest land, greenhouses, sample gardens, etc. in an area of more than 30 hectares including The University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest. Needless to say, agriculture is a science in the field, and without cultivated land, education and research cannot be done. However, because sufficient cultivated land and forest land have not been secured on the main campus of the University of Tokyo in Bunkyo Ward, the Tanashi campus has become a valuable educational and research place for the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Science of the University of Tokyo and the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Tokyo. The Tanashi Campus is used for student training in more than half of the departments in Faculty of Agriculture, and practical education is provided on methods such as work safety, crop cultivation, and ecological surveys. In addition, it is utilized for various researches by faculty members, students and researchers of ISAS and the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Science, especially on sustainable plant production, biodiversity and environment-friendly agroecosystem management, and crops that respond to environmental changes. We are focusing on research aimed at solving important global issues such as crop breeding technology, cultivation technology, and efficient data collection and analysis technology from the field.


In modern agriculture, coexistence with the region is essential. Education and research activities on the Tanashi Campus are supported by collaboration with many local residents and citizens. Issues such as balancing agricultural production with the environment and ensuring food safety and security cannot be solved by agricultural researchers alone, and it is necessary to carefully determine what expectations consumers and society have for agriculture.  Fortunately, the field has been enhanced with the help of the local community, such as the collection of flower lotus, which boasts one of the largest varieties in Japan, and the exhibition at the Farm Museum, where you can get a glimpse of the history of agriculture and farm equipment. We would like to develop education and research by taking full advantage of the fact that the Tanashi campus is adjacent to the large city and it is easy to communicate with society.


At the Tanashi Campus, the campus is being redeveloped in parallel with the construction of the city planning road by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and following the development of greenhouses and orchards, education and research activities in the new general research building are about to begin. The state of the Tanashi campus is changing from moment to moment. Campus development will continue for a while, including paddy field development, but we will continue to promote education and research without stagnation during the maintenance period, and maximize the realization of a dramatically fulfilling education and research environment on the new campus. We will make an effort, so please understand.


Last but not least, in the unprecedented disaster caused by the new coronavirus that started in 2020, all organizations and systems have decided to search for a new normal life. It is expected that this situation will continue for some time. Our organization plays a role as a place for face-to-face educational training in the field. While actively incorporating online as much as possible, and taking solid infection prevention measures, we will continue to promote education and research activities.


We would appreciate it if you could give us your frank opinions about the operation, education and research of our organization.


April 1, 2021


Director of the Institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Science, The University of Tokyo

Takeshi Izawa