Model: rice culture vs grain culture

June 10th, 2018

Planting rice is very different from planting grain.


When you plant grain, you have a couple of big steps, but little maintenance.


You choose the grain, but there isn't all that much choice really. A handful of choices, but you'll probably plant wheat like everyone else.

You may fertilise the field.

Then you plow it.

Then you plant the seeds.

And then you wait.


You may water the field occasionally, or let the rain do it.

You may spray the plants with insecticides occasionally, or let nature go it's way.

But mostly you're waiting until the plants are grown and ready for harvest.


Then, when ready, you harvest the field.

Afterwards you may plant some winter grass, but there is nothing much to do anymore.


You do this a couple of years in a row, and your returns will start to reduce.

You are tiring out the soil, you need to let the land rest and not plant anything for a while.


In short:

Put in some work at specific times, and wait the rest of the time.

Putting in a lot more work, doesn't give corresponding returns.

And you need to let it rest once in a while so you don't over-tax.



When you plant rice, you have a lot more choices and things to do.

There are lots of types of rice. A quick search shows there are more than 40.000 varieties of cultivated rice.


Depending on the type you choose, you may have one, two or three harvests per year.

But some types require the exact water level to be perfectly stable at the correct height.

Some are really sensitive and require a lot of maintenance and daily attention.

While others are much less maintenance.


In short:

The more effort you put into cultivating rice, the more returns you will get.



The resulting mindset "more effort = ? results" creates a different cultural work-ethic.


This applies on education as well.


Some courses like math require a lot of exercise to become great at it.

There aren't any shortcuts to take.

And people from a rice culture tend to be much better at it than people from a grain culture.


"Children need weekends and vacation from school stuff because otherwise they will get over-taxed."


You need to put in some effort at the beginning (in class) and the end (exams) of the year, the rest is mostly waiting.



Why is this model useful?


It raises some interesting questions:


Do we really need vacation?

Or is it better to learn to keep a sustainable pace?

Because a sustainable pace isn't needed in a grain culture.

You have short periods of hard work followed by long periods of rest.

No need to work in a pace you can keep forever.

Better to burn up all your reserves in a short period of time during planting and harvesting season, and recover the rest of the year.


What questions does it raise in you?


(src: Book: Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell)