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Duck and rice system in the Scottish Highlands

 
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Location: Caithness, Scotland
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Last year we experimented with growing rice in buckets, which worked well, but I've installed a small padi field for this year that integrates with the duck system. Would there be any interest in seeing this? I don't want to slap links to my YouTube channel all over the forum if not!
 
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I'm interested to hear more about this. Please feel free to share YouTube videos or anything else helpful.

Which variety of rice are you growing?
 
Andrew Williams
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That video shows the overall design. Last year I grew duborskian rice, a Russian/Ukrainian variety. It did well, so I kept the seed for this year. The other variety is new, a Japanese variety called hayayuki.
 
Andrew Williams
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A quick update on the system.

 
Kate Downham
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Great videos. It's so helpful to see this kind of system in action in a cold climate.

Do you plant the rice out as seedlings around the time of the last frost date? Or a bit later?

And is there any trick to installing a pipe like that and not getting leaks around it?
 
Andrew Williams
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We're lucky to have solid clay a foot down, so I just tamp it down well, wetting it a little. With the sort of pressure we're looking at with just a foot or so of head we've never had any leaks. With more pressure or less perfect clay it would probably be worth adding baffles to the pipe, like with a conventional dam. The seedling rice is growing in trays on my kitchen windowsill, it'll go out in a couple of weeks once things are reliably warmer.
 
Andrew Williams
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I've installed an emergency monk, that also works as a bypass, and built a wetland filter for the pond/padi system.
 
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What is a MONK that you are talking about in this video?  I tried googling it and nothing would come up relating to what you are referring to.  Thank you.  Your video and ideas with the geese and filtering and fertilizing is really interesting.
 
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The monk is the pipe that allows the water to escape the pond on the left, moving to the lower pond on the right. The purpose is to regulate the water level of the pond, preventing the over flow and errosion of the pond's bank.

Welcome to Permies!
 
Andrew Williams
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Yep that's right. The pipe has a 90 degree bend, which acts as a swivel allowing me to adjust the height of the pipe, and therefore the water.
 
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This is absolutely fascinating. I am currently building my first duck/dog pond. I have to use a liner as our soil is too sandy and silty to hold water but you've given me  great ideas for another pond that is at a higher level that could utilize your knowledge and water my upcoming greenhouse and cold frames - keep posting. I love it! I want to see how you clean the bottom of the pond for all that good stuff that is lying there
 
Andrew Williams
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Lizzie Pton wrote:This is absolutely fascinating. I am currently building my first duck/dog pond. I have to use a liner as our soil is too sandy and silty to hold water but you've given me  great ideas for another pond that is at a higher level that could utilize your knowledge and water my upcoming greenhouse and cold frames - keep posting. I love it! I want to see how you clean the bottom of the pond for all that good stuff that is lying there



I've come up with a pretty cool technique with that mud, I'm just in the process of making a couple of items to make it more efficient and I'll make a video about it.
 
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This is so awesome! One question though. I’m assuming you don’t want to over nutrify the swale, hence the reed bed. Why not add more forage trees to handle the added nutrient? Wouldn’t the reed be take away from the trees? Are you planning another monk to feed the swale directly? We just got our first ducks and I can’t wait to emulate your system.

Also, will the rice be for human consumption or for the ducks?
 
Andrew Williams
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Nick DePuy wrote:This is so awesome! One question though. I’m assuming you don’t want to over nutrify the swale, hence the reed bed. Why not add more forage trees to handle the added nutrient? Wouldn’t the reed be take away from the trees? Are you planning another monk to feed the swale directly? We just got our first ducks and I can’t wait to emulate your system.

Also, will the rice be for human consumption or for the ducks?



The swale system is very young, and will have a lot more trees in time. I'm not really worried about too much nutrient, the wetland plants are just there to give me more yield diversity. I don't plan on adding a third monk to bypass the wetland filter, I'm ok with all the water passing through it. If this year's rice goes well, I'm probably going to add a second padi next spring. There should be another video this week, I'm about to drop the water in the padi so I can get the rice transplanted out soon. It's always fun playing around with the monks.
 
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A quick question: What did you plant in the reed bed? I know you said it in the video, but my American ears couldn't quite catch it (despite over half my ancestors being from Ayrshire.)
 
Andrew Williams
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Chris Watson wrote:A quick question: What did you plant in the reed bed? I know you said it in the video, but my American ears couldn't quite catch it (despite over half my ancestors being from Ayrshire.)



My accent is a mixed up blend of Wales and the north of England, you're doing well if that's all you're tripping over! It's Typha Latifolia, though I've also added some duckweed today.
 
Andrew Williams
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A quick update! I've drained the padi so it can dry out a little ahead of planting the seedlings out, and set the bypass monk.
 
pollinator
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What temperature does your rice require to initiate flowering? All the reading I have done indicates that even the very northern American rices require 30C+ for a week to start the flowering process, And having lived in Aberdeen for many years I know you don't get that warm, so I wonder how warm you do need to be for your rice. I had a place here with lots of flowing water and waterlogged areas that I feel could be used for rice if I could find one that will flower consistently at 16-20C which is all I can offer
 
Andrew Williams
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Skandi Rogers wrote:What temperature does your rice require to initiate flowering? All the reading I have done indicates that even the very northern American rices require 30C+ for a week to start the flowering process, And having lived in Aberdeen for many years I know you don't get that warm, so I wonder how warm you do need to be for your rice. I had a place here with lots of flowing water and waterlogged areas that I feel could be used for rice if I could find one that will flower consistently at 16-20C which is all I can offer



It's difficult getting data on specific rice varieties, but last year wasn't particularly warm and we got viable seed. The Carolina Gold didn't do well at all, but the Duborskian did well. It'll be interesting to see if it does the same on a larger scale in the padi this year.
 
Andrew Williams
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I was asked what I do with the mud I harvest from the duck pond. Here's one technique I've come up with, making soil blocks. It's much, much faster than using a commercial soil blocker, cheaper, takes less work and adds another yield to the duck system. I'll never have to buy plastic cell trays again.

 
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Loving this thread as it continues to evolve! Such a great example of iterative design begetting additional yields without a commensurate increase in workload. Thank you for taking the time to document and share!

Will be very interested to see how your duck muck soil blocks do at propagating seedlings. Do you have any plan for how you’ll be keeping them moist while the seedlings grow out? I haven’t used soil blocks yet, and have been curious how well they hold form during the grow out phase prior to planting.

Thank you again!
 
Andrew Williams
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I planted up a load of blocks two days ago with various veg seeds as an experiment, so it'll be interesting to see how they do. So far they're still moist, but I'll just give them a sprinkle with a fine watering can when necessary. I've already experimented with that, so I know they hold up well to top watering. They also cope well with absorbing water they're standing in.
 
Andrew Williams
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After the cold snap delayed planting out, we've finally got the rice seedlings into the padi field. I suspect we're now the northernmost rice farmers in western Europe.

 
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