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Synecoculture (synecological farming) project

Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.
Published: 27 June 2018
Last edited: 19 March 2019
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We constructed a novel method of market gardening: Synecoculture, based on the high-density mixed association of edible plants without the application of tillage, fertilizer, and chemicals.

We introduced a high crop diversity (200 species, 700 varieties in 1000㎡) for year-round sustainable harvests. This was shown to strengthen food security, nutrition profile, soil quality, cost efficiency, climate adaptation and field biodiversity.

In Japan, 2- to 4-fold productivity was attained compared to conventional method.

In Burkina Faso, 40- to 150-fold productivity and 10-fold cost-effectiveness was realized in the arid tropic region.

Linear extrapolation of the result shows a strategic propagation of synecoculture could lift the entire population of Burkina Faso above the poverty threshold, and substantial achievement of Aichi biodiversity targets.


Southeast Asia
West and Central Africa
West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Coastal desert
Desert ecosystems
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Green roofs / Green walls
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate evergreen forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Tropical deciduous forest
Tropical evergreen forest
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Ecosystem services
Food security
Science and research
Climate Challenges (Hazards)
Erratic rainfall
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Ecological Challenges
Ecosystem loss
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Economic Challenges
Lack of technical capacity
Social Challenges
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 16: Access to and sharing benefits from genetic resources
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030


Burkina Faso | Japan


We have introduced about 200 edible plant species (700 varieties) on 1000㎡ scale in Japan from 2010, and 150 species in 500 ㎡ in Burkina Faso in 2015 under the controlled coexistence with naturally occurring species. Tillage and chemicals were not applied in order to preserve soil and ecosystems, neither fertilizer to prevent water pollution.

The high density mixed polyculture systems went through a self-organization process based on the spontaneous growth of plant community under the guidance of human by thinning harvest to maintain the coexistence of various species.

As a consequence, field and surrounding environments augmented biodiversity beyond a natural preservation state. Visual observation with the use of ICT recorded more than 1000 plant and insect species in Japan, including IUCN red data list species in a plot. Abandoned arid land in Burkina Faso reestablished the vegetation to a most mature stage of primary succession in terms of species composition.


In Burkina Faso, total costs for the implementation amounted to 1,487,218 CFAF/yr/500㎡ including seeds, water, tools, and labor costs, with the productivity of 7,572,000 CFAF/yr/500㎡. This results in the total cost effectiveness 5.09 (5 times more profit than overall investment) from the very first year, which is 10 times more than other tested methods.



Contributed by

Masatoshi Funabashi Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.