What are Paddy Fields?
Paddy fields are flooded plots of land used to grow rice, Oryza sativa. Etymologically, the term "paddy" is said to come from the Malay word for "padi" which means rice plant. Other terms used to describe these types of crop fields include "rice fields" and "rice paddy". Paddy fields can be found in Asia where rice is a staple crop. Paddy fields are a traditional agricultural method of growing rice in Asia and have contributed to the development of many ancient and modern civilizations.
While predominantly used to grow rice, paddy fields are also known to grow taro roots and other semiaquatic crops. Semiaquatic crops are crops that grow when partially submerged in water. The flooded planes, therefore, create the ideal growing environment for these types of crops. The excess water controls weeds and pests and also keeps the roots of the plants cool.
Paddy Fields History
The paddy field's origin can be traced back to the domestication of rice in the Yangtze River Valley in China around 8,000 years ago. Evidence was discovered by carbon dating rice husks and grains used as pottery. Paddy field farms arrived in South Asia and South East Asia around 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. This agricultural technique was then adapted across the continent, shaping civilizations as it went. For example, paddy fields in 400 BC Japan led to the movement away from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to agrarian societies formed around the cultivation of rice. Similarly, Korea began farming rice in paddy fields from around 1000 to 2000 BC.
Types of Paddy Fields
There are a number of different types of Paddy fields. These include:
Irrigated Paddy Fields - Irrigated paddy fields use mechanized irrigation systems to flood the fields and maintain enough water for sufficient crop yields.
Lowland Paddy Fields - Lowland paddy fields are the most common and are found in flat or gently sloping areas. Flooding is derived from a number of sources, including carefully managed rivers, canals, and water levels.
How Paddy Fields Work
When a rice farmer wants to cultivate rice using paddy fields, the first step is to level and shape the land. The land is plowed by various methods, including hand plowing, animal traction, and increasingly, machinery, such as tractors. The second step in preparing a paddy field is to flood the field. Sometimes farmers will flood their fields before they plow as the water makes plowing easier. Flooding rice fields allows a higher production of crop yield and suppresses weeds.
Paddy Fields Ecology
Paddy Fields are home to a plethora of aquatic, amphibious, and terrestrial wildlife. For example, within the flooded fields, fish, mollusks, crabs, and prawns thrive. Reptiles are common sights, including frogs, snakes, and lizards. Rice paddies also make great habitats for waterbirds such as herons, egrets, and ducks. In terms of fauna, the stationary water provides excellent habitats for many aquatic plants such as lotuses, waterlilies, and different types of grass.
Patty fields are flooded plots of land where semiaquatic crops grow, most notably rice. These fields are a traditional agricultural method for growing rice in Asia and have contributed to the growth and development of many civilizations. The first use of paddy fields can be traced back to the domestication of rice around 8000 years ago in the Yangtze River Valley of China. Numerous types of paddy fields exist, including irrigated paddy fields, which rely on mechanized irrigation to flood the fields; lowland patty fields, which make use of rivers and canals for irrigation; rain-fed patty fields, which rely on rainwater and are found in areas with high levels of rainfall; and upland patty fields, which are built on terraced slopes to maximize land space.
There are multiple steps to work a paddy field. First, it must be plowed and flooded before month-old rice seedlings are planted. When working in paddy fields, it is common to use handheld hoes, animal-drawn traction, or modern agricultural machinery. Water levels should be managed and partly maintained due to soil impermeability. The paddy field ecology provides ideal environments for methanogenesis and is a major source of methane emissions. Paddy fields are home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, including grasses, fish, and amphibious life.
What is the difference between paddy field and rice field?
The term paddy field and the term rice field are synonymous. In Malay, "padi" translates to rice plant, so both terms mean the same thing.
Why is it called a paddy field?
The word paddy comes from the Malay word "padi," which means rice plant. Therefore, the term paddy field is synonymous with rice field.