Elephant-manure compost used in recycling-oriented agriculture at Yuumu Farm in Shintoku

Felled banana leaves and stems being loaded onto a truck by Yuumu Farm managing director Yuasa (left) and a colleague. June 9
Fertilizer made from elephant manure being fed into a raw material input for biogas power generation

Elephant manure in return for banana leaves and stems: Yuumu Farm in the town of Shintoku in the Tokachi region of eastern Hokkaido has donated banana stems and leaves to be eaten by Asian elephants at the Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo. In return, the zoo donated compost made from elephant manure, in a gesture that the farm is pleased to say “helps sustainable, recycling-oriented agriculture.”

 The farm grows bananas using surplus heat from biogas power generated using dairy cow manure. Bananas grow quickly, and the stems and leaves that are thinned-out after harvesting are usually discarded. When the farm learned that the zoo was looking for banana leaves to recreate the wild foraging behavior of elephants, they decided to make the donation.
 
On March 8, approximately 900 kg of banana leaves were shipped to the zoo, and on June 9, another 2 tons were shipped. The donated banana leaves were transported by truck from Shintoku to Sapporo, with a representative from the farm saying, “If it helps to maintain the health of the elephants, which the children love, then we’re happy.” When the four elephants being raised at the zoo saw the leafy stalks, they are said to have devoured them.
 
On June 9, the zoo prepared approximately 1 ton of compost fermented from elephant manure as a “thank-you” gift. The compost will be used as fertilizer for banana cultivation and, on June 10, it was transported to a fermentation tank for processing in the same way as dairy cattle manure.
 
Around 1,000 heads of cattle are raised at the farm. The amount of electricity generated annually is equivalent to that used by about 600 standard households. Although the amount of compost is far from enough to generate electricity, Mr. Yuasa, managing director of the farm says, “The manure from the Sapporo elephants, which ate the stems and leaves from Shintoku bananas, will be used as fertilizer in Shintoku. It is exciting to think that it will be reborn as a renewable energy source. We hope to continue this project in the future.”

Location

Yuumu Farm

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