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'Quack squad' hunts S African vine pests

Friday, May 27, 2016 - 01:20

A vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa is using an army of ducks to help control snails and pests attacking grapes. David Pollard reports.

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They look cute enough. But look out - these ducks are killers. Not just ducks - but pest control. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERGENOEGD WINE ESTATE, DUCK HANDLER, DENZIL MATTHYS, SAYING: "He can take the snails (pests) from the wine stick and he can also get the eggs from the snails underground and eat it up." In other words, the ducks eat the snails that want to eat the vines at this vineyard in Stellenbosch. One thousand Indian Runner ducks to be precise. They can clear up to a whole hectare of snails in a day. And in the true spirit of organic farming, they recycle too. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERGENOEGD WINE ESTATE, SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER, DAVID BADENHORST, SAYING: "The Indian runner ducks are not only effective for pest control in our vineyards but they are also very, very good source of fertilizers. So the digestive system from in to out is basically an hour - whatever the ducks eat in the vineyard, gets deposited straight back into the vineyard. It gets worked into the ground and very good rich soil for good growth of our vineyards." Quack remedies don't come cheap. Duck snail control costing the vineyard around seven times what it might spend on pesticide. But fertilizer costs are down. And the ducks are doing such a good job, they've earned the ultimate winegrower's accolade - their own label.

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'Quack squad' hunts S African vine pests

Friday, May 27, 2016 - 01:20