Effect of fish in rice-fish culture on the rice yield


Rice-fish culture, which means the simultaneous culture of rice and fish, is one of the best options to increase food production from limited land and is practiced in many countries in the world. Although many researchers and farmers believe that the rice yield is increased by fish farming in paddy fields, this hypothesis has never been fully tested. Here, we report ecological processes leading to higher rice yields in the rice-fish culture using crucian carp (Carassius complex), which have adapted to the paddy field ecosystem in Japan. We compare the rice-fish and rice-only plots in the experimental paddy field for biota, water quality, and rice yield. Coverage of duckweed and densities of zooplankton and benthic invertebrates in the rice-fish plots were lower than those in the rice-only plots, indicating that fish utilized them as food. NO3–N concentration in the rice-fish plots was higher than that in the rice-only plots, indicating that the increase in NO3–N concentration results from excretion of unutilized food nutrients by the fish. Consequently, rice yield in the rice-fish plots was 20% higher than that in the rice-only plots. The fertilizing effect of the fish excrement probably increased rice yield.

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We wish to thank the staff of Saku Statistical Information Center, Kanto Regional Agricultural Administration Office for technical assistance in the investigation of rice yield. We thank the students of the Faculty of Eco-Tourism, Nagano University, and the staff of National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Ueda Station, for their help in the rice transplanting. We are also grateful to Ms. T. Hazama for her help during the study.

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Correspondence to Tetsuya Tsuruta.

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Tsuruta, T., Yamaguchi, M., Abe, Si. et al. Effect of fish in rice-fish culture on the rice yield. Fish Sci 77, 95–106 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12562-010-0299-2

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  • Crucian carp
  • Ecological agriculture
  • Sustainable farming system
  • Nitrogen
  • Paddy field ecosystem
  • Biodiversity
  • Multifunctionality