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  4. Using Yeast that Has Made Delicious Beer to Grow High-Quality Agricultural Produce


Using Yeast that Has Made Delicious Beer to Grow High-Quality Agricultural ProduceSupporting Agriculture with Brewing Yeast Cell Walls

The cell walls of brewing yeast contain active ingredients that encourage plant growth. An agricultural material (fertilizer raw material) derived from brewing yeast cell walls produced with an Asahi Group proprietary processing method, is producing results at farms all over the country. Those results include increasing harvest yields and reducing the use of agrochemicals.

To Use Not Only the Core Part, but Also the Outside of Brewing Yeast

Brewing yeast is a type of yeast fungus that is essential for the fermentation of beer. After brewing, having fulfilled its purpose, the yeast is removed from the beer, but it is still packed with nutrients and umami components obtained from the wort. Intent on maximizing the benefits of this by-product, the Asahi Group has applied it in a variety of products, such as EBIOS, an gastrointestinal nutritional support for the gastrointestinal tract, and yeast extract, a raw material for seasonings.
However, these efforts only concerned the core part of the brewing yeast cells. The cell walls, which cover the central part like a husk, have long been used in livestock feed, but it does not dissolve easily in water, making it difficult to process, so it had not been used for any other applications. Nevertheless, the yeast cell walls are rich in active ingredients that assist in the growth of plants. The quest began for methods of processing these yeast cell walls so they could be put to use in agriculture in some way.

Success in Development of Fertilizer Ingredient and Demonstration of Effectiveness After a Decade of Research

After ten years of research, the Asahi Group finally succeeded in developing its own processing method that breaks down yeast cell walls, which are difficult to dissolve in water, into smaller molecules.
When farmers were asked to try out the newly developed agricultural material (fertilizer raw material), numerous benefits emerged, such as stronger root growth in plants, faster plant growth, better crop quality, and soil improvement, resulting in less crop disease.
Fukuda Farm, in Abashiri City, Hokkaido Prefecture, where the cold climate had made rice growing difficult, reported that they were able to harvest their first rice crop. In a challenge to grow rice in fields with brewing yeast, which Fukuda Farm conducted jointly with Asahi Biocycle Co., Ltd., three acres of the farm's fields were fertilized with this agricultural material. The project began in 2020 and the rice ears bore grains from the very first year.
More surprising feedback came from a farm in Gifu Prefecture. In cooperation with the prefectural agricultural cooperative association, JA Gifu, which was having trouble with golden apple snails damaging their rice crops, the Asahi Group used the new agricultural material on about 5 hectares of rice paddies. While about 20% of the rice plants in the neighboring rice paddies were damaged by golden apple snails, there was very little damage visible on the plants in the paddies fertilized with this agricultural material. “The soft seedlings are most susceptible to damage in the initial growth stage, so we also spray it on the seedbeds before transplanting the seedlings into the paddies.” This new material is gaining an excellent reputation among farmers.

May 2021 Sowing scene

May 2021 Sowing scene

Golden apple snails

Golden apple snails

Also Effective in Maintaining Turf on Golf Courses, Baseball Fields, and Parks

Brewing yeast cell walls are also being put to work on the natural-grass turf in facilities such as golf courses, baseball fields, and parks. Because the fertilizer raw material made from the yeast cell walls is derived from food products, it is safe for use on grass where children and pets play and roll around. Also, because it strengthens the grass's root growth, it can be used to maintain high-quality turf suitable for playing sport. The agricultural material has already been used at Hanshin Koshien Stadium, one of the hallowed grounds of baseball in Japan, and at more than a third of the country's golf courses.
By connecting the world's farmers and the Asahi Group's yeast technologies, this innovation seeks to bring about a revolution in agricultural production, transforming agriculture into a practice that is friendly to people and the environment. These microbes, which work to make beer and vegetables taste good, hold the promise of shining a light on global issues, such as sustainable food supply and global warming. To realize a future of safe and plentiful food supply. The work of yeast continues.

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