Synecoculture featured in Sony’s sustainability report

The Synecoculture project at Sony CSL was featured in the Environment section of Sony’s sustainability report 2023.

Promoting Biodiversity through Synecoculture™*
Sony is promoting biodiversity and extending the reach of such efforts
on its sites through Synecoculture. Synecoculture is a farming method
advocated by Masatoshi Funabashi, senior researcher at Sony
Computer Science Laboratories, in which a wide variety of plants are
mixed and densely grown on a single area of farmland to create an
augmented ecosystem, thereby maximizing the circulation inherent
in an ecosystem, and by doing so, help overcome the trade-off
between productivity and environmental degradation.
Sony Group Enteritis in China have been widely deploying this technique
since fiscal year 2020 at sites across the country with coordinated efforts
both internally and externally. Five Synecoculture farms have now been
established on a total of 6,000 m2 of land, with over 2,000 kg of
vegetables harvested in the last three years. These initiatives were
recognized through an award from the Shanghai Municipal Commission
of Commerce (led by Shanghai Government) in fiscal 2022.
Sony/Taiyo Corporation started a Synecoculture farm in fiscal 2022
with the support of SynecO Co., Ltd., which operates a business
centered on Synecoculture, planting more than 100 species of plants.
Plants on the farm have continued to grow steadily, creating a health
ecosystem that provides radishes, potatoes and other vegetables
served in the employee cafeteria.

Synecoculture™* and Augmented Ecosystems
Conventional agriculture largely focuses on increasing productivity
from a single crop by plowing topsoil, spreading fertilizer, and
applying agrochemicals. These practices damage ecosystems and
cause environmental problems. Sony CSL successfully conducted
demonstration tests for Synecoculture, a new agricultural practice
that balances productivity and biodiversity, moving closer toward
sustainability. Synecoculture is already being used in the Sahel region
in Africa and has the potential to have a major global impact by
contributing to desert greening and helping local economies around
the world.
Synecoculture eliminates the need for the plowing, fertilizing, and
agrochemical use that impact the environment, by taking maximum
advantage of the material cycling that occurs naturally in ecosystems,
aiming to create rich ecosystems with a diverse mix of plants that
coexist together and grow lushly. The importance of building
ecosystems with a high degree of biological diversity and functionality
is increasing in response to climate change, food crises, and pandemics.
Synecoculture provides a fundamental solution to such global agenda.
Sony CSL is also working to supply new value through augmented
ecosystems, which expand the applications for Synecoculture beyond
food production to the creation of ecosystems with diverse objectives
and functions. The project supports education to enhance the
understanding of natural environments and adds new value to the
basic infrastructure of urban and living spaces. Building on this
project, Sony founded SynecO Inc. to create sustainable environments
and industries based on the renewable natural capital in which society
should be rooted.

*Synecoculture is a trademark of Sony Group Corporation.

Presentations at EcoSummit 2023, Gold Coast

The following presentations were presented at EcoSummit 2023 held in Gold Coast, Australia, on 13-17 June 2023.

-Oral Presentation: Masatoshi Funabashi “Synecoculture experiments: Human Augmentation of Ecosystems.”

-Poster Presentation: Kousaku Ohta, Tomoyuki Minami, and Masatoshi Funabashi “CSR ecological strategies to evaluate the community responses under controlled environmental gradient in augmented ecosystems.”

Presentations at CCE’23

Masatoshi Funabashi , Sony CSL senior reseacher, presented two research papers at the Complex Computational Ecosystems 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan, and one of them received the Best Non-Student Presentation Award.

■ [Best Non-Student Presentation Award ] “Vegee Brain Automata: Ultradiscretization of essential chaos transversal in neural and ecosystem dynamics” (Masatoshi Funabashi)

Get the final version manuscript here.

■“Modeling ecosystem management based on the integration of image analysis and human subjective evaluation – Case studies with synecological farming” (Shuntaro Aotake, Atsuo Takanishi, Masatoshi Funabashi

Get the final version manuscript here.

Both papers have been published in Springer Lecture Notes in Computation Science.

Press release on Syneco Robotics

A group of researchers led by Takuya Otani, an Assistant Professor at Waseda University, in collaboration with Sustainergy Company and Sony CSL, have designed a new robot that can perform Synecoculture effectively. It manages a variety of mixed plants grown in the shade of solar panels, an otherwise unutilized space. An article describing their research was published in Volume 13, Issue 1 of Agriculture, on 21 December 2022. The press release on this article was published on AAAS EurekAlert! and Waseda University websites:

NEWS RELEASE 20-MAR-2023 A sowing, pruning, and harvesting robot for SynecocultureTM farming (AAAS EurekAlert!)

Waseda University News A Sowing, Pruning, and Harvesting Robot for Synecoculture Farming



(1) 大谷拓也,伊藤明,青竹峻太郎,舩橋真俊,高西淳夫 「協生農法環境における農作業支援ロボットの開発 (第 3 報:雑草剪定・種植え・収穫実施における操縦性評価)」日本ロボット学会学術講演会予稿集 2022

Takuya Otani, Akira Itoh, Shuntaro Aotake, Masatoshi Funabashi and Atsuo Takanishi. Development of the Agricultural Robot in SynecocultureTM Environment (3rd Report, Evaluation of Controllability in Weed Pruning, Seed Planting, and Harvesting) Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Robotic Society of Japan, No.3H2-01, 2022

(2) 三谷健人,杉山壮真,大澤来実,伊藤明,近藤貴久,森田愛大, 青竹峻太郎,舩橋真俊,大谷拓也,高西淳夫 「協生農法環境における農作業支援ロボットの開発 (第 6 報:コンベックスを用いた高伸縮比を持つ直動機構)」日本ロボット学会学術講演会予稿集 2022

Mitani Kento, Sugiyama Soma, Osawa Kurumi, Itoh Akira,
Kondo Takahisa, Morita Manata, Aotake Shuntaro, Funabashi Masatoshi, Otani Takuya and Takanishi Atsuo. Development of the Agricultural Robot in SynecocultureTM Environment (6th Report, Linear motion mechanism with high expansion and contraction ratio using convex) Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Robotic Society of Japan, No.3H2-04, 2022

Actes du 6e Forum Africain sur la Synécoculture / Proceedings of the 6th African Forum on Synecoculture

Actes du 6e Forum Africain sur la Synécoculture / Proceedings of the 6th African Forum on Synecoculture is now available from the following link:

Pélagie Tchilalo ASSI, André Tindano and Masatoshi Funabashi, editor “Actes du 6e Forum Africain sur la Synécoculture / Proceedings of the 6th African Forum on Synecoculture” (French-English Version). Research and Education material of UniTwin UNESCO Complex Systems Digital Campus, e-laboratory: Human Augmentation of Ecosystems, No. 2 (2022)