Ducks rid invasive pests at vineyard


June 14, 2016

Each morning, a South African vineyard releases more than 1,000 Indian Runner ducks to control white dune snail infestations, reports Reuters. The ducks at Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch eat thousands of the small pests, which indulge in budding vines.

“Before we had the ducks we had to put down snail bait, a pesticide,” vintner and horticulturalist Marlize Jacobs told Reuters. “But, for the past nine years I have been here we’ve used very little snail bait, almost nothing, because the ducks eat all the snails and other insects.”

Used for centuries in Asia to control pests, Indian Runner ducks stand upright and can fit between rows of vines, Reuters says. They can be seen running around the vineyard in the video above, guided by a herder.

The ducks are able to exterminate large amounts of the main threat to vines at the farm, covering up to one hectare per day. On a similar sized farm, growers could spend about $32,000 each season on pesticides, compared to about $1,958 for one month of ducks.

The ducks are fed grain in their pens to balance their snail diet, Jacobs says.

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