Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rice, Rice and More Rice

Not only is there rice with almost every traditional Korean meal, but there are rice patties scattered across the country side everywhere you go. This being said, rice is Korea's staple production crop, and we were fortunate enough today to get some insight knowledge on the production and pest management practices used.

Rice is grown in paddies, and while there is not a size measurement that governs this term, it is simply the water-filled area where rice is grown. This is very similar to a field in the United States, simply an area that is cultivated for a crop to be grown.

What is not so similar is the pest management practices utilized. Though we do have a small percentage of our crops grown organically in the US, that is not the norm, but in Korea rice is all grown organically! Of course, we immediately questioned the possibilities of this, and man, did we learn a lot.

To begin there is one main predator of rice: mice. The mice are largely taken care of by the water that the rice is grown in, at least until the paddy is drained before harvest.

While examining the rice patty we noticed hundreds of small pink objects that resembled flowers at first glance,  we came to find out that these were snail eggs. In each rice patty hundreds of snails are released to feed on the weeds. This method takes care of about 50% of the weed problems and the rest can be managed by hand weeding.

Next we inquired how they take care of insect pest problems, and the answer was ducks. In a one hector patty they will release up to 300 ducks to patrol the patty for pests. Then when the rice crop is harvested they also harvest the ducks and sell them. We took this as Korea's form of double cropping. What an awesome way to utilize management practices and be environmentally friendly.  Unfortunately, the avian flu virus outbreak has limited this practice recently.

There are so many interlinked agricultural businesses working together to create this staple crop of their nation, which is amazing to see and experience!

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