Want to grow great grapes to make great wine on your farm? It might be time to invest in an Indian runner duck or perhaps even a team of them.
This vineyard in South Africa lets 900 Indian runner ducks loose among the grape vines every day to forage and snack on slugs and snails that pose a threat to the harvest. But those aren’t the only pests that can hurt grape production. Other grape pests include:
- brown marmorated stink bugs
- grape bud beetles
- leaf hoppers
- vine mealybugs
- branch and twig borers
- and much much more
The Indian Runner duck is a fun duck breed because unlike its other duck cousins, it stands upright. In addition to their apparent prowess at grub control, they’re excellent egg layers, according to the Indian Runner Duck Association. They’re also often cross-bred with other meat-duck breeds, like the Aylesbury and the Rouen, to increase production vigor. The Indian Runner duck breed originated in the East Indies, but it became popular in Europe in the 19th century, though some experts claim that perhaps the breed arrived on European soil far earlier than that.
Using the foraging instinct of poultry to benefit their crops isn’t a new concept to farmers. In fact, many gardeners allow their chicken flocks to graze their crop leftovers at the end of the harvest season to clear out dead plant material and to prevent certain pests from overwintering in the soil. The droppings that will inherently occur as the flocks seek out their snacks even provide good nitrogen-heavy fertilizer to the soil.