Just like to every other culture on this planet, to the Balinese water is holy. To them rice is holy, too, and a gift of God. Thus perhaps life is best managed by managing rice growth and water supply? This seems to be the worldview of the Balinese, who have cultured rice in terraces for thousands of years. The subak system intertwines collective ownership, agriculture, water systems, and religious worship in water temples.
As I looked out at the rice terraces I was reminded of an elementary school lesson where we were taught that circulation of crops keeps the soil fertile: grains, potatoes with stalks, and most importantly, nitrogen-binding peas in a continuous rotation. The Balinese have grown rice – and more rice – year after year, for thousands of years. No potatoes or peas. How could that be?
The answer is ducks. Yes, ducks. Dozens of ducks. Sometimes hundreds of ducks, invading the rice fields, eating insects and weeds, and pooping out the best organic fertilizer.
Organic agriculture rocks. Who needs chemicals when ones has fluffy quacky ducks at one’s disposal?