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Thai farmers take their ducks in turn to fight pests

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After the rice crop is harvested on a farm in Nakhon Pathom province, a herd of about 10,000 ducks is released from a pen and instinctively poured into flooded fields to devour pests, such as snails hiding in rice canes.

The drone images, which capture the spectacle resembling the migration of naturally occurring animals, show birds zigzagging through the fields as they head for nutrient-rich rice fields without any guidance.

This way of raising ducks in rice cultivation areas has long been a tradition in the area and other parts of the region.

The Thais call it “ped lai thoong”, which means “field that follows ducks”.

The ducks of Khaki Campbell, a British breed, have been brought to the rice fields after 20 days in the nursery and will grow on the move for the next few months. After roaming for free for about five months, they return to the duck farm to produce eggs for up to three years.

“Profitability [for the breeder] is for us to reduce the costs of feeding the ducks, “said Apiwat Chalermklin, 34, a producer who took over the business from his father.

“And in return, for rice farmers, ducks help eat pests from the farm and farmers can reduce their use of chemicals and pesticides.”

During a field clearing work he expects to take a week on this 67-hectare farm, Apiwat ducks have found many foods such as cherry snails, weeds and other small pests.

Apiwat has four herds of ducks moving through various rice fields in the province where farmers usually cultivate three rice crops each year.

“They help to eat the golden apple snails and the unwanted rice husk residues that remain in the field from the last harvest. The ducks also step on the rice husks to flatten the soil and this makes it easier to plow,” said rice farmer Prang Sipipat.



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