- The Association of Japanese Geographers
- 地理学評論 (ISSN:13479555)
- vol.80, no.5, pp.225-245, 2007-04-01 (Released:2010-03-12)
This study attempts to clarify the formation of a geothermal greenhouse agricultural area in northern peripheral Japan, and to examine the sustainability of intensive agriculture in terms of its ability to develop natural energy sources. The study area, Nigorikawa in Mori Town, is a pioneering production center of tomatoes grown in greenhouses in Hokkaido. The success relied on intensive utilization of geothermal resources for agricultural purposes, which made economic sense because the rights of access to hot springs were almost of no value. It became possible to pursue high profitability by specializing in tomato growing. However, it is now difficult to maintain sustainability as a production center due to excessive drawing up of water for 827 greenhouses. This depletion of geothermal resources makes it difficult to expand tomato farming. On the other hand, negative side effects of repeated cultivation became worse as rotation farming systems were abandoned in pursuit of profitability. It is also unavoidable to use large amounts of chemicals, which is disliked by consumers. Thus, tomatoes produced in Nigorikawa seem to be lacking superiority in terms of both price and quality. The best strategy to develop tomato production is to create higher added value by pursuing high-quality produce with significantly reduced utilization of chemicals. Consumer demands for “safe and secure” agricultural products are growing rapidly. It is necessary to shift from the mass-producing and mass-consuming system that formed the basis of Hokkaido's agricultural industry in the 20th century, to the sustainable and environmentally harmonic system for the 21st century that prioritizes quality and safety.