Many farmers around the world use pesticides as a cost-effective way to manage potentially crop-destroying plants, animals, and fungi. It’s understandable why, but these chemical pesticides often find their way into the water, air, and soil, where they can harm wildlife and even humans.
Organic farming methods are quickly gaining popularity, in part due to consumer demand and environmental protection regulations. Some farmers in Japan have developed a new way to go pesticide-free in their rice patties; by employing ducks.
It’s not the first time ducks have been used in rice farming. In fact, the practice of keeping ducks on rice farms is an ancient one that’s being slowly rediscovered. These ducks, often released by the dozens, eat insects and weeds, oxygenate the water, stir up the soil, and their manure is a valuable natural fertiliser.
The movement to reintroduce ducks to farming is ancient an ancient practice, but new to most. It is slowly catching on, however. Takao Furuno’s book on the subject, The Power of Duck, has been purchased by more than 10,000 farmers in Japan. The practice is spreading across Asia and is now being tried out in southern France too.
While this farming method spreads, so too does the demand for this special ‘duck rice.’ Duck rice is considered a premium rice product and often sells at 20 to 30% higher than conventionally grown rice. Smaller scale organic farms are able to cash in and thrive. Takao’s own 3.6 hectare rice farm gives him an income of around $160,000USD per year.
Takao is happy to share his knowledge of duck farming. Check out this video where he breaks it all down.