Pest control is a serious issue if you're a farmer. After all, growing crops successfully is hard enough work as it is. You have to worry about the quality of your soil and fertilizing it properly. You have to plant at the correct time, and you need the right mix of sunshine, rain, and the correct temperature to keep your plants growing strong. And if you're lucky enough to have all of that work out, the last thing you need is a bunch of pests helping themselves to your seeds and crops before you get to harvest time.
That's why whether it's grasshoppers or aphids or mice or crows, farmers have used many methods over the centuries to stop pests from munching on their bounty. These have included pesticides (chemicals that kill pests), fences and nets to keep pests out, destroying infested plants, and even burning a field after harvest (to eliminate remaining pests and stay again fresh).
These different methods have their pluses and minuses. But one thing is for certain. None of them are particularly adorable.
Someone should really do something about that.
Cute and effective
Someone did! Meet the incredible Indian Runner ducks of Vergenoegd Wine Estate near Cape Town, South Africa. All 900 plus of them (the latest count according to their website is actually 1070 ducks). Slugs and snails are a common pests on grapevines. They also happen to be delicious to ducks. So rather than relying on a bunch of chemicals to kill the pests (which could be damaging to the soil and the environment), the Vergenoegd farm decided to try using ducks instead.
What started off as a modest experiment in 1984 has grown into a full-fledged anti-pest army. Not to mention a lovely extra attraction for tourists. The ducks live and sleep in a comfortable pen at night. In the morning, it's off to work!
They march as a whole into the vineyard to munch, munch, munch on snails, slugs, and whatever else might threaten growing grapevines. What's more, they then poop in the vineyard, which fertilizes the soil.
Then, as the afternoon winds to a close, they march back the way that they came, celebrating another honest day's work before catching some well-earned Zzzzs (or Zzzzuacks).
"We have a basic research and breeding program in place to keep our workforce of ducks productive, healthy and happy," says their website. And based on this video, it's pretty tough to argue with that. Watch 'em go below!