The Best Way to Protect a Vineyard From Pests: Running Ducks

Shaunacy Ferro

Some land owners turn to dogs to protect their property, but for farmers concerned about insect damage, a more unusual animal has become protector of the land: the duck.

Ducks have been used as pest control in China since at least the Middle Ages, and trained ducks still come to the rescue there when more modern agricultural protection methods fail. In 2000, a group of ducks, trained to devour locusts on command, were unleashed to combat a plague of the grasshoppers. (Chickens helped, too; the birds were trained to eat the bugs when they heard a whistle.)

NPR went to Stellenbosch, South Africa, where a local vineyard uses runner ducks to keep its grapes pest-free, and brought back this video of scurrying waterfowl getting down to work. Every day, the vineyard workers let a hoard of Indian runner ducks loose among the crops to root out snails and slugs, reducing the need for pesticides. As more agricultural scourges develop pesticide resistance and people grow more invested in organics, ducks may become a more attractive type of livestock for farmers.

[h/t NPR]