When you think of Yokohama, generally you think of some of the areas I’ve covered in #s 1-6 of Yokohama, in living color. Rarely do you think of farms and rice fields. So, in this installment we’ll take a look at a farm and a rice field just 25 minutes from Yokohama station, in Tana city, Yokohama.
You wouldn’t know you were a short train ride from downtown Yokohama. Not when you cross the street from the station and there’s a farmer’s market…with no farmer! “Just take what you want and drop your money in the basket. We trust you!”
And, where were the farmers? Out working, of course.
Yes, they grow vegetables in addition to rice!
That’s the station in the background.
A little about the ducks, from: The Power of Duck by Furuno Takao
Another interesting cultivation system for rice is the “integrated duck and rice cultivation system”. In this system, ducks (“aigamo” in Japan) are allowed to stay and swim around in the rice field from shortly after seedling transplanting. The ducks eat the weeds as they sprout (but not the rice seedlings as they do not like the rice plant’s stiff, high-silica leaves) and any insects that may land on the rice plants.
The ducks’ excreta then fertilize the soil providing nutrients for the rice growth. The ducks perform the function of pesticides and herbicides and chemical fertilizer, thereby saving the farmer a lot of toil, money and worry (weeding is one of the greatest problems in Japanese agriculture). This system is sometimes used with azolla (a nitrogen-fixing floating grass, which is very fast-growing, and which the ducks will feed on) and sometimes also fish (e.g. loach, which the ducks do not eat because they cannot see the fish beneath the azolla!)
More to come….stay tuned! (click here for pt.2)