Farmers in China, Japan, Iran, and France are beginning to return to ancient methods of rice farming using more birds and fewer pesticides.
Farmers lead the ducks to the rice paddies with help of a bamboo stick early in the morning. Ducks guard crops from insect attacks and are responsible for weeding. With ducks tearing up weeds, preying on pests and leaving their manure behind as organic plant food, rice growers can eliminate the need for artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
This technique—known as integrated rice-duck farming—is not entirely new. Growing ducks and rice together in irrigated paddy fields was documented in China some 600 years ago, and Chinese farmers practiced it for centuries until they were lured away by quick fixes like synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and chemical pesticides. But as the use of industrial technologies has posed a growing threat to the environment in recent years, some farmers have turned to ancient wisdom to feed the world’s hungry.
Takao Furuno, a Japanese farmer, wrote a step-by-step guidebook teaching how to steer away from chemical-dependent rice production by embracing the power of ducks in modern times. Across Asia, tens of thousands of rice growers follow suit, so do villagers in France and Iran. Such practice has also inspired professionals in other fields: Winemakers in South Africa, for instance, have hired an army of 800 Indian runner ducks to patrol their vineyards. And in the small southern Chinese village of Xiangyang, revival to integrated rice-duck farming has been initiated from few years ago.
Takao Furuno wrote two books so far with clear guidance to lead ducks in farm management; The One Duck Revolution (2012) and The Power of Duck: Integrated Rice and Duck Farming (2001). One of the Books preview is given below;