Leopold Center Hosts Innovative Japanese Farmer Feb. 5

January 23rd, 2002

AMES, Iowa — A Japanese farmer who developed a sustainable crop system after watching wild ducks in his rice paddies will share his ideas and experiences at a Feb. 5 seminar and discussion at Iowa State University.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture is hosting a visit by Takao Furuno, whose methods of integrated rice and duck farming are being adopted in many rice-growing areas including China, India and Vietnam.

"A Conversation with Takao Furuno" is scheduled 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Room 3140, Agronomy Hall, followed by a seminar presented by Furuno,"One Bird, Ten Thousand Treasures," at 4 p.m. in Room 2050, Agronomy Hall. Michael Bell, an ISU sociology professor who has visited other integrated systems, will moderate the 2 p.m. discussion to explore how the principles of Furuno's methods could be applied in other production systems and environments.

"Furuno's system has been widely hailed for its productivity, adaptability and ecological soundness," said Leopold Center director Fred Kirschenmann.

Furuno conducted extensive experiments on his five-acre farm beginning in 1987. He began by integrating a special breed of ducks into his rice paddies to help control pests. After 10 years, his farm annually produces 7 tons of rice, 300 ducks, 4,000 ducklings, enough vegetables to feed 100 people, and hundreds of duck eggs.

"Many believe this system can make a major contribution to solving the problem of producing adequate, well-balanced diets in some of the world's regions of rapidly growing population," Kirschenmann said. "We want to know if there's an ecological equivalent for Iowa."

An estimated 10,000 Japanese farmers use Furuno's production system, detailed in a new book, "The Power of Duck," published last year in Australia. Furuno is in the United States on other business and scheduled the Iowa visit after receiving an invitation from the Leopold Center.

Contacts: 

Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, (515) 294-3711

Laura Miller, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, (515) 294-3711

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