Bridgestone Corporation, a tire and rubber company that has devoted significant resources to ensuring a continuing and sustainable supply of rubber for the future, has developed a system that utilizes big data to contribute to higher yield at rubber farms. The mathematical model incorporates a variety of factors, including soil health and disease management, to derive information on which clones of trees should be planted where, when and in what quantity in order to maintain high natural rubber productivity.
The data from the new system finds an optimal tree planting plan over more than 30 years, improving and stabilizing the plantation yield. Going forward, Bridgestone will further customize the system before offering it for use at other farms.
The natural rubber currently used to produce tires is extracted from the Para rubber tree, which primarily grows in Southeast Asia. Disease and the depletion of tropical rainforests where Para rubber trees are grown contribute to risk in the rubber supply chain. Bridgestone is working to address these issues by diversifying and expanding its sources of natural rubber.
Last fall, Bridgestone launched a campaign that invited its partners to work together to implement sustainable and responsible practices within the natural rubber value chain.
By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.6 billion while the number of automobiles owned will exceed 2.4 billion, Bridgestone says. Accordingly, the amount of materials needed for tire production is expected to increase significantly. Meanwhile, there is a push to decouple economic growth from environmental impacts, as indicated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.