This Sunday has been declared World Wetlands Day to raise awareness of the benefits and value of wetlands, and Ducks Unlimited and USA Rice Federation have partnered together to show their support.
“Given the intimate link between agriculture and wetlands, World Wetlands Day’s theme placing a focus on the need for wetland, water and agricultural sectors to
work together for the best shared outcomes is a great idea,” said Jeff Durand a Louisiana rice farmer and Cochairman of USA Rice’s Stewardship Partnership Committee. “Nowhere is that link more obvious than in the managed wetlands of rice agriculture.”
According to a press release, while wetlands have been seen as a barrier to agriculture, especially in the prairie pothole region where most of the nation’s waterfowl are produce, some agriculture practices that support healthy wetlands are being adopted.
And in the case of rice, wetland habitat is often created, the release states.
“Rice agriculture is a multifunctional agro-ecosystem. In addition to nutritious food for people, rice lands provide critical habitat for waterfowl and millions of other migratory birds and wetland dependent species,” said Scott Manley, DU director of conservation innovation. “According to a soon-to-be-released study, 42 percent and 44 percent of the food resources available to wintering dabbling ducks along the Gulf Coast and Central Valley, respectively, comes from winter flooded rice fields.
“The resource values for geese are higher because of dry land feeding. Obviously, winter flooded rice fields are continentally significant for waterfowl.”
The two groups formed the USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership last year to advocate for sound agriculture- and conservation-related policies and to promote the ecosystem benefits of rice agriculture, according to the release.