Ducks out of luck in water-scarce rice fields?

Mike Peters/

The Marysville Appeal-Democrat, located in the heart of rice farming country in Northern California, touched on the potential problem for waterfowl this fall and winter if rice farmers over treat their fields–a topic Ducks Unlimited has been making the public actively aware of.

But mixing the rice straw into the soil or bailing it also effectively hides it from certain species of waterfowl that use it for food, said Mark Biddlecomb, executive director of the western region of Ducks Unlimited.

“The concern is if (farmers) can’t flood their fields, they will manipulate the soil more than normal by making more than one pass through the field and bury a lot of seed that way,” Biddlecomb said. “It does shrink the universe of available food.”

The amount of food is of particular concern this year, as large populations of birds are expected to fly south into California.


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