Integrated Rice and Duck Farming
Oryza Sativa is to Eastern Civilizations
what wheat and barley were to the west (prior to
corn, at least).  We are in the planning stages of a
commercial-scale implementation of the excellent
research of Takeshi and Linda Akaoki of
Westminster West, Vermont.  Funded by
NESARE, their pioneering on-farm research
showed that varieties of rice and field practices
developed in Northern Japan can be effectively
adapted to the New England climate.
   Our project will be perhaps the first in the
Northeast to build on this important work and
create a system to bring significant quantities of
short-grain brown rice to the marketplace.
In integrated rice and duck farming, ducks provide the
workforce to fertilize the rice paddy and keep it clear of weed
competition.  They don't eat the rice plants due to the silica
content of the leaves.  The method of raising ducks in rice
paddies and simultaneously producing both grain and meat
has been developed by Japanese farmer Takuo Furuno.  
Furuno draws on both ancient agricultural traditions and
contemporary technology to create the living system he calls
"Aigamo."
   We hope to be the first to implement Furuno's methods in
New England, and look forward to collaborating with Furuno
and other ecological farmers in the Pacific Rim.
   Rice is a different sort of
agricultural enterprise than
other grains grown in the
Northeast.  You don't just
wake up one April and decide
to grow rice instead of oats.  
Nor can it (or should it) be
grown in a natural wetlan
d.  
Instead, a special man-made
wetland (paddy) is created for
the purpose.  Unlike other
crops, rice is not normally
rotated--a paddy is a paddy
forever


   The key components
needed to grow this crop are a
large hoophouse or
greenhouse for starting
seedlings, the paddy itself,
and a plentiful source of
warm water.  


   Properly managed, paddies
are very nutrient
-stable and
have been shown to actually
purify the water they use
before passing it downstream.
 They also quickly become
host to many amphibians and
reptiles, and birds, such as
you might find in a natural
wetland.
Given that much of the Champlain Valley, including our farm, has been poorly and incompletely converted
from natural wetlands to dryland crops, rice has great potential as a future crop.  The heavy soil, the poor
drainage, excess rainfall have all been detrimental to our efforts to grow various dryland crops over the
years.  But for rice, each of those disadvantages becomes an advantage!
   If the Champlain Valley had been colonized by Asians and not by Anglo-Saxons, we would already have
been growing this crop for a few hundred years.
   We are now gearing up for commercial production in 2012.  We hope to work with researchers in
Vermont and overseas to expand the pool of knowledge pertaining to this important crop.  We will update
this page with new material as work progresses.