Integrating duck and paddy farming

Blessa Sailo, Chongtham Sonia, M Norjit Singh, BK Sharma, Kha Lovingson, M Dilrash
Ducks occupy an important position next to chicken farming in India. They form about 10% of the total poultry population and contribute about 6-7% of total eggs produced in the country. India is under tremendous pressure to increase, by all possible means, the production of rice, its staple food, in order to attain self-sufficiency in food. Although increasing the area under rice cultivation remains a remote possibility, various options for a vertical increase in rice production are still available. The present system of rice production requires the use of agro-chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, often in heavy doses. These chemicals, particularly the latter, are harmful to the environment as they spill into the water bodies, and worse, get deposited in the bodies of animals and human beings, in toxic proportions. Duck cum paddy farming is a system in which rice and ducks are raised simultaneously on the same land. The system was practiced in some East Asian countries, particularly Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. The farmers of these countries had adopted the rice-duck culture as one of the means of organic farming where weeds and insects could be controlled effectively by the ducks (Pham, 1994; Choi et al., 1996). The rearing of ducks, along with rice cultivation, was reported to reduce weed growth by as much as 92-96% (Kang et al., 1995).
In Japan, this method is popularly known as ‘Aigamo-rice cultivation’. The simultaneous raising of ducks with rice cultivation aids in the control of weeds and insects, thus helping eliminate the application of pesticides (Manda 1992; Furono 1996). The integration of rice cultivation with crossbred duck farming also known as mixed farming-enables the poor farmers to obtain not only rice, as the main crop, but also subsidiary products (duck meat and eggs), from the same piece of land at the same time. Besides, the faeces/droppings of these ducks will provide almost all the essential nutrients to the rice crops. Ducks are habituated to consume juvenile frogs, tadpoles and dragonfly etc. and thereby make a safe environment. Duck droppings provide essential nutrients which go directly into the pond; droppings are good sources of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, which in turn stimulate growth of natural food organisms.
Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell, Muscovy or their cross with indigenous local ducks are preferred for paddy duck integration. To get a disease-free and good stock of duck, it is better to collect Khaki Campbell or Indian Runner duck from a Government Farm. Under intensive rearing system Khaki Campbell is able to lay above 300 eggs per year, weight of the eggs varies between 60 and 70 g. The female starts to lay at the age of 24-28 weeks and able to continue laying until 360-380 days old. Annual manure production from duck excreta will be around 45-55 kg duck-1. Duck dropping contains 81% moisture, 0.91% N and 0.38% P which is good for fertilization of paddy field.
Locally popular and modern rice varieties can be planted in paddy field. In the rice-duck plots, seedlings should be transplanted at a distance of 25 cm x 20 cm. Ten days after transplanting, 20-day-old ducklings can be released in the plots at the rate of 350-400 birds per ha. For the first three to five days, ducklings should be kept in the plots for 2-4 hours a day. Later they can be allowed to remain in the plots from morning to evening. Proper measures should be taken to protect the ducklings from predators and to prevent their movement outside the designated plots. The ducklings, upon reaching four months old, should be removed from the rice fields which, by then, are at the flowering stage. As a thumb rule 100 ducks require 0.5-acre paddy field per day for effective grazing.
Advantages of Duck and Paddy Integrated farming
· Ducks are good foragers & scavengers
· Reduce cost of inputs (chemical fertilizer and agro-chemicals)
· Insect and weed control
· Reduce cost of labour
· Increase yield of paddy
· Improving soil health
· Conservation of natural environment
· Promote duck farming
· Add nutrition (protein) for households
· Facilitated women involvement
· Generate more income
· Improved rural livelihood
· In extensive system of rearing, ducks are allowed to graze on harvested paddy fields, ponds, lakes, canals & other water bodies.
· The fallen paddy grains, insects, snails, earthworms, small fishes, toads, fingerlings, tadpoles, water plants like algae etc. are the main source of feeding for ducks.
Paddy cultivation and duck farming is having symbiotic relationship. The integrated rice-duck system was highly beneficial for the farmers from the economic point of view. The farmers also found the system very easy to operate, aside from being economically rewarding. The technology has an inherent ability to improve the nutritional status of the resource-poor farmers. Results yielded by this sub-project convincingly demonstrated that the rice duck system is very feasible in India.

The writers are from ICAR- Manipur Centre, Lamphelpat, Imphal, Manipur, Dept. of Animal Science, COA, CAU, Iroisemba, Imphal, Manipur.

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CAU, Imphal. Email: [email protected]