Virtual soil? Kazumichi Fujii trying to find solution for earth problem

(5, November, 2022)

This article is about;
Kazumichi Fujii, a researcher of soil science, who is trying to make artificial soil.
・You could know his profile, what soil science is, and how big potential his research have, to solve a global food shortage.

1.Prologue~who is Kazumichi Fujii?

We all know soil. Soil is everywhere, but how much do we know about soil? Do you know how many types of soil there are in the world? Recently, I watched a TV program, where Kazumichi Fujii, a Japanese researcher of soil science, appeared and taught about soil. It taught us about how mysterious soil is and how important it is for us in terms of sustainability of foods.

This article will briefly look into Kazumichi Fujii’s profile and his research activity, without technical terms.
Remark) I am not a researcher or something like that at all. Information in this article is based on a Japanese TV program “Crazy Journey” (TBS) and his official website.


Image from: “Crazy Journey” (TBS, Japanese TV program「クレイジージャーニー」)

Name Kazumichi Fujii
Occupation Soil Scientist
Senior Researcher in Forestry and Forest products Research Institute.
Born in 1981
Hometown Toyama prefecture, Japan
Educational Background Agricultural faculty of Kyoto University
Agricultural faculty of Kyoto Graduate School
He got a PhD degree and moved to Forestry research institute in 2011.

・Website “Fujii Kazumichi Homepage” *In Japanese
His profile in English


・Book *No English books available.

土 地球最後のナゾ 100億人を養う土壌を求めて (光文社新書)
created by Rinker

2.What is Soil Science?~Kazumichi Fujii explains in a TV program

Recently he appeared on a TV show, “Crazy Journey”, explaining Soil Science (or agrology, edaphology, pedology). For example, how soil is made, how many types of soils on the earth and how soil matters in our world. Brief explanation follows.

・How soil is made?

Kazumichi Fujii explains how soil is made, with following image.

Image from: “Crazy Journey” (TBS)

There are following 2 steps necessary to make soils.
1. Fallen leaves corrode and mixed with other plants or wastes digested by insects or microbes.
2. Stones are broken into pieces to sand, and sand to clay.

Above 1 and 2 are mixed together to make soils. This process takes 100~1,000 years.

・How many types of soils?

Fujii explains, there are roughly 12 types of soils in the world.

Image from: “Crazy Journey” (TBS)

Generally, black soils are good for agriculture, such as the second right one at the bottom, according to him. This black soil is mainly seen in the United States (9%) and Ukraine (30%). This rich black soil makes Ukraine the best place for making wheats. That is why Ukraine is famous for a major wheat exporting country.

・Soil is facing shortage by human activity?

It takes 100~1,000 years of long time process for 1 centimeter of Soil to be made, while human’s agriculture consumes it in 10 years. If soil is lost, our planet earth would be a total desert where no plant/vegetable would be grown.
So, if human activity continues unchanged, soil could be lost someday and no food might be produced. Fujii’s research theme is here. He aims to make artificial soil to solve this serious issue of soil in the future world.

3.Kazumichi Fujii’s journey to find the 40 years old soil bag

Kazumichi Fujii’s senior colleague researcher made soil bags called “mineral bag” in 1978, 40 years ago, with volcanic ash wrapped in a nylon stocking. The mineral bag was buried in the deep mountain forest in Japan by his fellow, who passed away already, left only a rough map of the “treasure”. Fujii says it is literally a treasure as the soil bags are 40 years old, which may be the key to make his research way faster.

Image from: “Crazy Journey” (TBS)

As the second image shows, the map is too rough to find the place. He says, by the way, for other academic researches which takes a big cost, big nations such as the US and China will take advantage with its economic power. However, his research of virtual soil takes “time” and “perseverance”, not money. That’s why he struggles in this field, aiming to be the one who solves the global food problem through artificial soil.
In fact, Fujii has already found 3 mineral bags of seventh. Here is the photo of it. You can see the fresh volcanic ash (left) is transformed like baby soil (right) in a nylon stocking after 40 years.

Image from: “Crazy Journey” (TBS)

He is trying to find all the mineral bags, as well as researching them to accomplish his great goal, making virtual soil. I hope he will make it someday.


This article looked into Kazumichi Fujii, a Japanese researcher of Soil Science. Before I watched Fujii’s TV program, I knew nothing about soil; how it is made, how many types of soil and how serious problems lay behind soil.

Fujii’s research on artificial soil has a big potential to change the world. It can be a game changer for the food supply/shortage problem on earth, if it came true.

It was a good interesting learning for me. I hope you had fun with this article.



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