Technology fact sheet
- Ducks reduce pests and weeds in rice fields and provide nutrients to rice plants.
- The use of agrochemicals can be reduced, thus lowering production costs.
- Rice yields increase by up to 20 per cent, resulting in 50 per cent higher net returns.
- Availability of eggs and duck meat results in improved nutrition and/or additional income.
This graph summarizes the results of a sustainability assessment conducted for this technology. The closer the line is to the outer edge of the diagram, the better the technology performs in terms of the particular criterion
What is integrated rice-duck farming?
- Integrated rice-duck farming makes use of the mutually beneficial relation between ducks and the rice crop to increase rice productivity.
- Ducklings are allowed to forage in the paddy 10-15 days after rice transplanting until the flowering stage about two months later.
- The foraging ducks 1) remove weeds, 2) eat pests, 3) soften the soil with their bill and feet, thereby releasing trapped nutrients and 4) produce natural fertilizer with their droppings.
- The use of agrochemicals can be reduced and rice can even be cultivated without agrochemicals.
- Integrated rice-duck production is a low-cost, organic farming method for small entrepreneurs.
- Rice-duck farming is a 500-year-old tradition in Japan, where it is called the ‘Aigamo-Method’.
- The traditional method was re-engineered by a Japanese farmer, Mr. Takao Furuno, into a modern system of organic farming.
- In Indonesia, the technology was introduced by the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD), Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology (AIAT) of the Ministry of Agriculture, in districts of Central Java.
- In Bangladesh, the technology was pioneered jointly by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and the nongovernmental organization (NGO), Friends in Village Development in Bangladesh (FIVDB), through field research based on an idea obtained from Japan. Field research onintegrated rice-duck farming started in Bangladesh in July 2001 for a three-year period. Since 2006, the NGO is providing training and extension services for integrated riceduck farming.
Where it works
- The technology works well in typical lowland rice growing areas like in the north-east of Bangladesh having flood plains and relatively high annual rainfall of 4,000-5,000 mm. The area has clayey and loamy, non-calcareous grey soils.
- The technology is adopted by farmers with knowledge of rice production and duck rearing. The majority (95 per cent) of the adopters or their families in Bangladesh were previously involved in rice farming and duck rearing.
- In Bangladesh, just over half (52.5 per cent of the rice-duck farming adopters are women. Nearly two thirds of the adopters are likely to be functionally illiterate.
- Flooding the rice field during the initial growth stage is essential for best results with the ducklings. Therefore, the field must be well leveled and all field bunds must be properly constructed. Repeated ploughing before levelling, helps to control weeds at an early stage. FAO TECA (2014) suggests that ducks can forage in the field during the two weeks of field preparation to feed on golden snail which are a rice pest in the Philippines.
- Five tonnes of compost or cow dung are applied per hectare of paddy field.
- Spacing of rice plants should be wider than in traditional systems to facilitate the movement of ducklings between therice plants. In Indonesia, the so-called legowo row planting system (2:1) with spacing of 25 x 10 x 50 cm (see Figure 1) is used. In the Philippines, a minimum distance of 20 x 20 cm is recommended between rice plants (FAO TECA, 2014). Seedlings that are 21 days old are transplanted, using 2-3 plants per hole. Mr. Furuno transplants at 33 x 27 cm but suggests the optimal transplanting distance should be individually tested (Furuno, 2009).
Figure 1. Legowo row planting system 2:1
- An integrated pest management approach is recommended.
- Manual weeding can be performed with gasrok, a traditional weeding tool or other manual weeders like the cono-weeder (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Indonesian Gasrok weeder (left) and cono-weeder (right)
Source: Parinatha (2013) Source: indiastudychannel.com
- Rice harvesting should be conducted on time, when 80-85 per cent of the grains are ripe with a golden yellow color (de la Torre, 2010).
Maintaining ducks in an integrated rice crop field
- Young ducklings are kept and fed in cages heated during the day and night for two weeks.
- Transfer ducks between the ages of two and four weeks into group cages, providing heating only at night.
- Before releasing the ducklings, the rice field must be fenced to avoid ducklings from entering neighbouring fields and to keep natural enemies out of the rice-duck field. Furuno (2009) uses an electric fence to protect against wild dogs, raccoons, rats and weasels, and fishing lines, stretched tight above the field to protect against birds.
Figure 3. Duckling cage with heating lamp
- Group swimming training of four to five days in a small protected field is recommended for very young ducklings (Furuno, 2009). Alternatively, FAO TECA (2014) suggests leaving ducklings between one to three weeks old and with no swimming training, for two to four hours in the field for the first three to five days after their first release. After one week, ducklings can stay in the field from morning to evening but need to return to the shelter at night.
- The establishment of rice roots is key for deciding the right moment to release the ducks in the field. According to FAO TECA (2014), ducks can be released five to seven days after transplanting without damage to the crop. Furuno (2009) observed best weeding results after releasing ducklings 7 to 10 days after transplanting and Hossain et al. (2005), released ducklings, 10 days after transplanting rice.
- The water table should be maintained so that the feet of the ducks barely touch the ground (Suh, 2014).
Figure 4. Young woman guiding ducklings to a rice field