Proper pest management always calls for pesticides as a last resort. Prevention is always better. If pests do infest one’s farm, the use of natural predators to hunt them down has been a proven effective method to naturally control them.
In South Africa, the well-established Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate deploys a battalion of up to 1,600 ducks to take care of their pest problems.
The vineyard uses the Indian runner, a flightless duck with a keen sense of smell. The ducks roam the vineyard on a 14-day route, eating pests and fertilizing the ground along the way.
The ducks repeat this until they are taken out of the vineyard during harvest season as they tend to eat the grapes. They are relocated to a free-range pasture where they can freely swim and breed.
The vineyard has been using ducks to control pests since the 1980s but they are hoping to convince more farmers to do the same. As a pioneer in the winemaking industry starting as early as the late 17th century, Vergenoegd Löw hopes to get other farmers to try their technique by selling 750 of their ducks to other vineyard owners.