This year is coming to a close, and the agricultural workers in Yomju County, North Phyongan Province, are happily recollecting the benefit from the mud snail-used organic farming.
During the weeding season, this year, too, no workers were seen weeding or applying herbicide in the paddy fields of the county. Instead, the fields were teeming with mud snails.
It was ten years ago that the county began to pay attention to the mud snail.
One day researchers of Kim Il Sung University came to see the officials of the County Cooperative Farm Management Committee. They said that they could avoid the weeding job in paddy rice farming without using herbicide when they made effective use of the characteristics of the mud snail, a tropical mollusk which lives on grass in water.
With a great interest the county officials laid plots for testing the mud-snail-used farming in some workteams of different cooperative farms, and conducted observation. As seeing is believing, the reality was unbelievable. The plots grew free from weeds with each passing day, and resulted in the increased per-hectare yield with the soil turning fertile. The phenomena of the herbicide doing harm to the rice tillering and growing in the later days disappeared, and thus the number of ear-bearing tillers increased. Besides, the vertical movement of the mud snails around the rice root enhanced the soil’s permeability of water and air, and the excrement of the mud snail improved the fertility.
Full of confidence the county buckled down to the work of expanding and applying the new kind of farming to all its farms. Choe Yong Il, chief engineer of the Ryongbuk Cooperative Farm, says, “However, we had some problems. In order to put mud snails in the vast fields in the county we had to secure millions of them, and the existing snail culture could not do it. So we chose the method of letting the snails hibernate.”
The farm workers found out that the most rational method of letting the snails hibernate was to keep them in a dry condition. And they learned that when the air temperature of 8-12℃ was maintained continuously, snails could safely hibernate for 200 days, and that it was important to take good care of the nutrition of the snails and let them excrete well before hibernation.
Now all the cooperative farms and workteams arranged dry hibernation grounds and outdoor culture grounds. Soon the Ryongbuk Cooperative Farm made a success of ensuring the survival rate of the mud snails at 98%.
The next year they solved the feed problem, and the following year they settled the problems arising in the outdoor culture including raising the survival rate of young mud snails. A method was developed to make solar heating panels with activated carbon powder, which made it possible to provide a proper temperature in the hibernation grounds in winter. Thanks to positive application of the mud-snail organic farming the county surpassed the peak year level of grain output in 2014, and produced many high-yielding farms, workteams, sub-workteams and workers despite unfavourable weather and climatic conditions.
Today the agricultural workers in the county unanimously say, “We think we could hardly do farming without mud snails. This kind of farming is quite profitable, economical and future-oriented mode.”