Can't believe that three months have already come and gone already! I finished up a final draft of the thesis last week and as a treat to myself, I headed down to a ryokan （旅館, traditional Japanese hotel）in Atami. Since the rainy season ended in Tokyo, the summer heat is really kicking into high gear and being next to the ocean and feeling the breeze was quite a welcomed relief. As usual, we tool the local JR line down and took the Shinkansen on the way back. The food was top notch and very fresh!
Getting back to thesis progress, I presented my current research yesterday at JIRCAs and got some great feedback. I'm going to try my best and finish up everything by the end of this week so that when I go back to the states I can proof it a few more times and submit it then prepare for my presentation and poster presentation.
All in all it's been a great experience to learn about LCA and Vietnamese rice production, something I would not have thought much about if I didn't come here and work with the experts. Since I have some more time now, expect some more posts in the coming days!
It's finally coming to an end, almost wrapped up my thesis...one more deep breath until it's done! My thesis started off with the exploration of the relationship between AWD and yield, but through all of my research and work I ended up talking about AWD and residue management. What I mean by this is that when the farmer finishes harvesting their crop, what do they do with all of the left over rice straw residue? Well, there are not too many options, either you burn it, use it, or send it away.
From what I can tell with my limited research, each of these options is unique and impacts the farmers differently. Burning is the easiest option for the them as they just burn the residue in the field. Using the residue may include burying it in the soil which may improve the soil content. Finally, removing the residue is the last and most diverse option. Once the residue is removed it can be used as a component for mulch, used in mushroom production, or as animal fodder. It may also be used a biofuel or just burned elsewhere. This option needs more study, possibly though an LCA.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in the the first ever OIAC and meet my fellow AWD researcher. It was an excellent experience to exchange notes about Vietnamese AWD. As my own research pertains to AWD in the Mekong Delta it was great to talk with a researcher that had field experience.
Along with that, my thesis is coming along nicely now that I have some idea on how to proceed. I'd like to get a decent draft out in the coming weeks!
Bhí spraoi agam Dé Sathairn seo caite le mo chara san Osaka. D'ith muid bia blasta agus chonaic muid caisleán.
The past week has been very active, geologically speaking. Just this morning we had a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in the neighboring prefecture and last week there was a 6.8 a few prefectures away. They say that we're overdue for 'the big one' so every tremor is taken very seriously. Still not used to the slow and steady shaking of the ground beneath my feet.
As for my project, there has been yet another change in my direction. It has become clear that there was some miscommunication between the my two organizations, NUIG & JIRCAS, but I need to do my best and carry on with what I have and hope that this becomes a learning situation for all. After revamping my methodology section and literature search, things have seem to of fallen into place. However, without ample feedback it's hard to progress.
I've been looking at some GHG calculators and ways that they can be used with LCA. They seem to be pretty helpful in calculating emissions but at a large scale. As I need to focus on a small scale, my investigation has led me to several papers about LCA in Vietnam but not many pertaining to rice. Perhaps I can extrapolation the data from neighboring countries in order to get a clearer picture?
In other news, I like to stay positive so here is an article about Conservation International finding an area in Central America that is a safe harbor for species once thought to be extinct.
Everyday I dive a little bit deeper into the world of AWD and find out new things. There is of course the science behind AWD (less water, decrease methane emissions, less inputs, etc.) but for every aspect that AWD changes in rice cultivation I feel there is a reaction in the social sphere. This reaction would be based of of the farmer's past experiences as well as their own culture and what the culture guides them to do. It would be interesting to examine and map how the different rice producing cultures respond to the inclusion of AWD in their field activities.
Japan is infamous for it's rainy season (tsuyu・つゆ・梅雨) that lasts from June all the way until mid July. The days are hot, humid, and rainy. Usually not a day goes by without some rain. In other words, "it's not the heat - it's the humidity," and you can't even catch a good ol' fashioned southern breeze here. Where's the sweet ice tea??
As for the research, coming together (little by little), my supervisor came back after being awhile and we decided on proceeding with the objective: trade off between direct GHG mitigation of AWD and lower yield, possibly leading to indirect land use change and "carbon leakage." Just have to revamp my lit search a bit to include the new terms "indirect land use change" and "carbon leakage." Shouldn't be too difficult, I'm also going to check around for some general LCA books, it'd be grand if they had one that related to agriculture.
As for the non-research related front, spent the weekend moving into my my accommodation, not too shabby. Larger than the hotel of course by still small, even for Japan standards. It's about a 50 min walk to the research facility and 30 min walk to the main train station so that's pretty convenient. After the move, I ventured into Tokyo to revisit the old sights and sounds of the city. Still can't get over how true this video is...and it's already a number of years old.
Yesterday we participated in the annual "Sanaburi" festival to celebrate the completion of the rice transplanting. It was good craic and great food was to had by all. I'm surprised by international atmosphere here, much more international than I first thought. With many of the researchers and staff coming from different countries it was a great way to share and experience other people's culture and food. Many of the Japanese that worked abroad from some time brought back to Japan the recipes they learned while being overseas. A great way to broaden one's horizons.
Glad that it's Friday and I'll be moving out of the hotel and into a proper accommodation tomorrow (closer to Tsukuba station) which will make my commute into Tokyo that much more easy. I still plan on walking to JIRCAS as I don't have a car and the public transport is lacking here (one bus a day at an odd time).
The walk itself wont be bad at all, I even tried it last week, took about 50 minutes or so? Not bad at all compared to some of the previous commute-walks I've done in the past. Back when I worked in Tokyo I often opted walking the 2 hours back to my residence in lieu of taking the stifling trains that abound in Tokyo. After that when I found my self working in Melbourne I would often walk back to mt apartment while exploring new areas along the way. I still get a kick about telling the Japanese that I walk/will walk...in a country where it seems walking is a cardinal sin as people tend to take the elevator/escalator for one flight or take the train/bus to go less than half a mile. I guess they would prefer waiting then getting the job done. After all, this is the country where waiting for something and waiting in lines is the true national past time where sometimes people wait in line for more than 2 hours to get a special coffee. Guess my nickname, 'the harbinger of walking,' holds true once again.
Off to see the new Godzilla movie tonight, I mean how is watching Godzilla in Japan not the true Japanese experience.
Starting next month the rainy season (tsuyu・梅雨) will be in full swing, but even now one can feel the changes in the air. From late last night there was a pleasant drizzle that lasted until this afternoon. On this morning's walk to work I was fortunate enough to see some nice sunshowers. It reminded me of the weather around Galway Bay and plucked my heart strings. Even in this drizzle the Japanese rely on umbrellas...the way they avoid even the slightest drizzle makes one think they are made of sugar and would dissolve after the smallest rain drop falls on their head.
"When rain falls from a blue sky, in the Hour of the Horse, the Great Fox King takes his bride" - Masaoka Shiki, Meiji Period poet
In Japan, when the sun shines through rain, the foxes (the shape-shifting tricksters of Japanese folklore) hold their weddings. In Japanese, it is known as 「kitsune no yomeiri・狐の嫁入り」, and when translated means the "fox's bride taking." As pretty as these may be to watch, they are bad luck as the viewer will be entangled by the fox's magic powers and bad things will follow. Thus, when this weather happens, parents often tell their children to play indoors to avoid seeing these weddings (perhaps just a way to keep kids inside so they don't catch a cold).
There are quite a few depictions of this even in Japanese art and media, one of my favorites was brought to the silver screen in the 1990 picture called, "Dreams" by Akira Kurosawa (link below to watch part of it).