- The Plate
Want Cleaner Rice Paddies? Find a Flock of Ducks
Farmers in China, Japan, Iran, and France are beginning to return to ancient methods of rice farming using more birds and fewer pesticides.
At 6 o’clock in a recent summer morning, Tang Zhengqing is already on his way out, with seven ducks waddling in front of him. They walk in pouring rain, cross bridges and streams, and slip on muddy roads for nearly 20 minutes. The destination? Rice paddies several kilometers away.
Rain or shine, Tang has followed this routine for three years. “In the past, I didn’t care where my ducks would be; But now I want to make sure they all go to my rice paddies,” the 60-year-old says, while leading the ducks to the right track with a bamboo stick.
Tang’s ducks carry a special mission—They guard crops from insect attacks and are responsible for weeding. With ducks tearing up weeds, preying