Apr 29, 2010
On Sunday, March 28, 2010, the Second Ajimu Project Workshop was held at the Fukami Area Community Center in Usa City. Initiated by Vice Chancellor of Ritsumeikan Trust, Professor Monte CASSIM, the Ajimu Project aims to observe how climate change affects the grapes currently being grown, and the wine that is made from them, in Ajimu, a local community in Usa City. A sophisticated set of sensors have been set up to monitor micro-climatic information, soil changes and plant responses in the vineyards under this project on a real-time basis.
A collaboration between two universities in Japan and New Zealand, the field-based investigation is being conducted simultaneously in the northern hemisphere in Japan by APU in Ajimu, Oita Prefecture, and in the southern hemisphere by Auckland University of Technology in the Marlborough wine growing region of New Zealand. This Workshop is the second of a series of quarterly meetings with local project stakeholders whereby information is shared and its applications discussed. The objective this time was to show how climate change actually affects the grapes at different stages of its growth and development.
The workshop was attended by representatives of the Ajimu grape growers, the Ajimu Winery manager and sommelier, municipal and prefectural government representatives, and Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA). Also present were educators from the local schools who wish to increase environmental awareness by integrating this project into the local school curriculum.
The APU team, which consists of undergraduate and post-graduate students as well as faculty, is divided into five groups, covering: (1) the setting-up and maintenance of instruments for agro-climatic monitoring; (2) analysis of the grape growing and wine-making processes; (3) modeling and forecasting from the data gathered by the instruments; (4) communicating the project findings to different stakeholders; and (5) scheduling, financial oversight and management of the overall project. Each group presented their findings over the past three months and discussed their relevance to the expectations of the local community.
Considering the exceptionally cold spring this year and the sudden incidence of frosts just prior to bud-break in the vineyards, many growers voiced their enthusiasm for the project. One of grape grower said, "I am sure that the Ajimu Project will not only impact the grape growers and wine producers, but it will also result in the growth of the community as a whole".
In addition to Professor CASSIM, APU faculty members who participate on a regular basis include Associate Professor William B. CLASTER, Assistant Professors NISHANTHA Giguruwa, QIAN Xuepeng, MAHICHI Faezeh, and APU Pro-Vice President, Professor COOPER. The project is funded for two years by a research grant from the Toyota Foundation and corporate assistance for powering the instruments with wind/solar power has been provided by Messrs. A-Wing Ltd. Initially conducted in Japan and New Zealand, it is hoped that the project will expand into a global agro-climatic information network linking many other grape-growing communities and agricultural sectors throughout the world.
Reporter, Student Press Assistant (SPA): NUGROHO Katarina Marsha Utama (APM4, Indonesia)