Shizen farming of rice in Japan may represent a qualitatively set of management practices (syndrome) from conventional rice-production practices, which are based on the agronomic theory of Matsushima. We examined the growth of rice and the development of the pest fauna on adjacent farms at Dezima-mura, Ibaraki-ken, one of which used shizen farming practices and the other conventional farming practices. Differences in management practice included transplanting technique, plant density, irrigation practice, fertility source and quantity, and insect, disease and weed management tactics. Rice yields were comparable, but shizen farming produced larger seeds and conventional farming produced more seeds. Shizen plants grew steadily and probably had little internal recycling of nutrients. Conventional plants grew rapidly with much internal recycling of nutrients. Pest attack was apparently related to plant development and was more severe on conventional plants early in growth and of similar severity late in growth on both conventional and shizen plants.
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The authors thank Enjoji-safi and Matsuoka-safi for their cooperation in this study, and E. Kuno, H. Inoue, K. Kawamoto and S. Miyai for their assistance. We especially thank K. Kiritani, who made this work possible. This research was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation US-Japan Cooperative Science Program to DAA and B. Bedford with substantial additional support from the National Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences at Tsubuka, Japan.