The main purpose of Synecoculture Association is to promote scientific researches and report the results on Synecoculture and contribute to a sustainable society. For specific farming guidance, please refer to the Synecoculture manual.
Regarding the Synecoculture manual, the knowledge and methods consist of three levels; principles, rules, and examples. The examples are not rules and are not obliged to follow in all situations. In addition, depending on changes in the situation, rules also need to get back to the principles and be changed or derive new ones. Only principles are exclusively required to be respected in the practice of Synecoculture. Keep in mind the hierarchy of these principles, rules, and examples, and consider tailoring the strategies in your own field environment.
The knowledge published by Synecoculture Association follows the principle of open-source. Wikipedia is a well-known example of an open-source knowledge community. Being published as open-source includes the process of being improved by the various people who use it.
As an example, let’s consider an open-source airplane.
Air has a physical law that causes the levitating force to an object under certain conditions, which is itself a universal principle. On the other hand, there can be many different designs for how to build a vehicle that flies in the sky using this principle.
Consider the case where the blueprint of an airplane has been published and you actually tried to make it by yourself, and it did not fly well. There are two possible cases: there is a problem with the blueprint itself, and/or there is a problem with the implementation that should have followed the blueprint. (And note that these failures do not break the underlying physical laws themselves.)
The ideal innovation in open-source is accumulating various experiences and knowledge in actually making an airplane, by sharing the successes and failures of each person, together with the improvement of the blueprint itself.
The underlying principle is to “make a vehicle that flies in the sky according to the laws of physics”, and the shape and size of it will change a lot depending on the ideas and purposes of the creators. (What is the power, the location of takeoff and landing, the distance and speed of flight, the weather conditions, the size and weight of passengers and cargo, etc.).
Synecoculture practices should also evolve in various ways, while setting the fundamental principle of “food production in ecological optimum”. In order to realize social implementation that provides fundamental life-support and makes living in various social-ecological situations, it is necessary to devise and develop various processes in the same way as flying airplanes from blueprints. Please understand that the Synecoculture manual is published as a starting point for this.
Q. I would like to request a lecture on the scientific research results of Synecoculture.
A. It is possible to send one of our lecturers to explain the research results. Please contact email@example.com.
Q. I would like to introduce Synecoculture to my business/community/NGO activities.
A. Since Synecoculture is open-source, anyone can introduce it free of charge. In introducing and implementing, in addition to downloading and using the manual in each language, we provide information such as lectures on the scientific basis and research results of Synecoculture. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
No license fees are collected for introducing and implementing Synecoculture. At the same time, “Synecoculture” is a trademark of Sony. In order to sell products with this trademark, you will need an assessment and a permit. For more information, please email us.
Q. Can I personally use the pictures of the presentations seen on YouTube etc.?
A. For those published as scientific papers or books, you are free to cite and quote the source. However, if you change the interpretation of those contents in a scientifically wrong manner, it may be subject to criticism according to the general norms of academic research. Unpublished items are copyrighted by Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. or Synecoculture Association and cannot be used. Please check here for published items.
About the Synecoculture manual and practice
Q. Is it probable that I start on a big scale and succeed at the first trial?
A. If you have no previous experience of Synecoculture, it is recommended to start on a small scale such as a kitchen garden and explore what can be done. Even if the crops that grow in the area are known to some extent, the environment and the possible growth of crops constantly change due to ecological transitions, so it is useful in the long run to continue small-scale experimental plots to monitor the changes.
Q. Are there any complaints or annoyances from neighbors due to problems such as increased pests and weeds?
A. At present, no such ecological problem has been reported due to the practice of Synecoculture. A highly augmented ecosystem makes the abnormal outbreak of a single invasive species less likely to occur. However, please be aware that if the neighborhood is conventional farmland, it may cause psychological resistance, apart from whether or not the Synecoculture ecosystems actually causing negative influence on the conventional farmland.
Q.What is the difference of Synecoculture from environmentally friendly agriculture such as natural farming and permaculture?
A. At first glance, it seems like all these farming methods are similar. The distinctive feature of Synecoculture is to aim for “super diverse and super useful” in farming ecosystems. Traditional sustainable agriculture remains in the trade-off of lowering biodiversity by giving priority to the growth of individual crops when trying to increase its value. On the other hand, the Synecoculture farming method fundamentally overcomes this trade-off and builds a farm ecosystem in the direction of increasing usefulness as diversity increases. As a result, biodiversity becomes even higher than it would be compared to an uncontrolled natural state.
Although it sounds simple, it is difficult to achieve both biodiversity and productivity without scientifically grasping the role that biodiversity plays in the great circulation of land and sea. Even after accumulating years of individual experience in the field, it is difficult to understand how biodiversity is contributing to the community-level productivity in naturally self-organized ecosystems. This is one of the clear differences between other farming methods that are based on the accumulation of personal experience and expertise limited in cultivated fields, and the Synecoculture farming method that is scientifically formulated across ecology and agronomy as an augmented ecosystem.
Q. Is it possible to say that “Synecoculture is a type of natural farming that has the characteristic of planting trees?”
A. It depends on the definition of natural farming, but if it takes on an expression based on experience, such as “the power of nature,” it will be clearly different. The Synecoculture farming method scientifically distinguishes between “physiological optimum” that is the principle of productivity improvement in monoculture, and “ecological optimum” that is the principle of productivity in community ecology. The overall productivity of Synecoculture is based on the latter definition of “ecological optimum” in the diverse communities of plants. The management method in Synecoculture is also an interactive decision-making process with the dynamic transition of productive ecosystems while recognizing and distinguishing these physiological and ecological optima at each intervention, which does not always match the management methods of natural farming. The “natural” productivity empirically advocated by many natural farming methods does not make these scientific distinctions and the physiological and ecological optima are often confused, often biased toward monoculture productivity close to physiological optimum during the knowledge transmission. As a result, the methods of Synecoculture and some types of natural farming may eventually partially match, but in general, introducing trees into natural farming does not make it Synecoculture farming. On the contrary, if there is another purpose such as “maintaining the state of grassland”, there is a possibility that trees are not planted even in Synecoculture fields.
For the purpose of planting trees in Synecoculture, please refer to the section “planting trees” in the Synecoculture manual.
Q. Do we use genetically modified crops (GMOs) in Synecoculture?
A. Synecoculture does not allow the use of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The reason is not only the unknown risk of genetically modified crops, but also the fact that genetic diversity introduced in GMOs is neither necessary nor sufficient to restore biodiversity loss and regain the water cycle of topsoil. For details, please see the published papers.