Flocks of white, black and brown ducks hunt snails and other pests in a vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and fertilize the soil. It is an ecological way of cultivating, without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. And by the way – a tourist attraction.
Ducks are a key element of natural agricultural practices in viticulture. Indian runners are particularly well suited for this (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus). They have long legs and an upright posture, which makes it easier for them to spot pests – including snails – and to pick them out from the leaves. About 500 Indian runners “work” in this way at the Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate in the city of Stellenbosch (South Africa).
Hunting pests is not the only use of ducks in vineyards. The nutrient-rich manure left behind by the birds sustainably fertilizes the soil.
The ducks have also become a local attraction and a favorite among tourists who watch them while sipping wine.
Ducks as soldiers of the vineyards
“We call them vineyard soldiers,” explained Corius Visser, the vineyard’s managing director, in an interview with Reuters. This association actually comes to mind when you see the birds dutifully marching behind the leader of the flock through the vines.
“It’s amazing how they behave, they walk in a line, as if they were in the army,” confirms Merle Holdsworth, one of the tourists.
Visser emphasizes that sandpipers “learn easily” and quickly implement into the daily routine. They also know the way back to their pens, where they are fed special bird food every evening.
Yodell Scholtz is an employee who has been caring for the ducks at Vergenoegd Löw for two years. “It’s almost like raising your own children,” she says.
Main photo source: Reuters