To protect traditions and nature
The techniques to improve soil environment are wisdom for helping the agriculture in mountainous regions in the world.
One of the unique characteristics of Nishi-Awa Steep Slope Land Agriculture System is Koeguro. Koeguro is hay collected and piled up in a cone shape to dry. The hay is then cut into small pieces and laid over the soil surface, which fertilizes the soil and prevents the runoff of soil. It also prevents the growth of weeds, eases the heat in summer and the cold in winter, as well as prevents the soil from drying.
The word Kaya collectively refers plants such as pampas grass and cogongrass. There used to be Kaya-ba (grasslands) in farm villages in many parts of Japan and hay was used as feed for the livestock (Hago), fertilizer for the fields (Koe), and as material for thatched roof. In Nishi - Awa , there are still Kaya-ba utilized for farming today.
Traditional farming tools manufactured by blacksmiths
Farming on slopes requires special skills: cutting dried hay into small pieces and laying them over the fields to prevent the soil from running off, for example. If the soil flows downward, it has to be returned upward by using a traditional tool called Sarae. There is another special tool to crush gravel called Tsubute that are found a lot in the fields, to make good soil. These tools are not commercially available. The blacksmiths in the villages called Kajiya have been manufacturing tools that are designed in accordance with the inclination of the sloping field.