Rice fields fatten salmon with all-you-can-eat bug buffets

Rice fields in California’s Yolo Bypass provide an all-you-can-eat bug buffet for juvenile salmon seeking nourishment on their journey to the sea.

That’s according to a new report detailing the scientific findings of an experiment that planted fish in harvested rice fields earlier this year, resulting in the fattest, fastest-growing salmon on record in the state’s rivers.

“We’re finding that land managers and regulatory agencies can use these agricultural fields to mimic natural processes,” said co-author Carson Jeffres, field and laboratory director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

“It’s like a dehydrated food web,” said Jeffres of the harvested rice fields. “Just add water. All of those habitats are very productive for fish.” News release