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A flooded field of arable land called a paddy field is used to grow semiaquatic crops like rice and taro. It is associated with pre-Austronesian and Hmong-Mien cultures and comes from the Neolithic rice-farming cultures of the Yangtze River basin in southern China. In prehistoric times, Austronesian people spread it to Southeast Asia’s islands, Northeastern India, Madagascar, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. The innovation was likewise gained by different societies in central area Asia for rice cultivating, spreading to East Asia, Central area Southeast Asia, and South Asia.

Fields can be built as terraces into steep hillsides or next to features with a depression or steep slope, like rivers or marshes. They are made with a lot of labor and materials, and they need a lot of water to be irrigated. Oxen and water buffalo are important working animals that are used a lot in paddy field farming because they are adapted to live in wetlands.

Today, paddy field farming is still the most common method of growing rice. In Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Northeast India, Indonesia, Northern Iran, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam, it is practiced extensively. Since the colonial era, it has also spread to northern Italy, the Camargue in France, the Ebro Delta in Catalonia, the Guadalquivir wetlands in Andalusia, the Albufera de València wetlands in the Valencian Community, the eastern coast of Brazil, the Artibonite Valley in Haiti, and the Sacramento Valley in California, among other places.

Paddy cultivation should not be confused with deepwater rice cultivation, in which rice is grown for at least a month in flooded conditions with water that is more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) deep.