If you hear someone say pest control, the first image that probably comes to mind is somebody wearing a gas mask and a hazmat suit. But as part of The Fruitguys Community Fund Sustainable Farming Manifesto we want to change that image by promoting good pest management techniques. So next time you hear someone talking about pest control, think of ducks!
Natural Pest Control
Natural pest control is exactly what you would think it is. Instead of relying on chemicals to rid crops of pests, it involves finding a natural predator. So, if you have a problem with mice, encourage an owl to nest in your barn. Or if you have too many aphids, create a habitat for ladybugs. Or, if you’re running a vineyard, get a flock of ducks….
One South African vineyard has employed a flock of ducks to help keep weeds down. The ducks are herded from field to field where they will graze on weeds and small insects. With this natural weed abatement, the vines thrive. Plus, there’s an added benefit from the duck weedwacker… they naturally fertilize the crops as they go.
Another way to keep bugs down is by building bat houses or boxes for barn owls. Bats reduce insect populations, especially in areas with a lot of mosquitoes. A single brown bat can catch up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour. To attract bats to your area you need to build a bat house or create a natural habitat where the bats can sleep during the day. Then you simply wait for them to move in.
If you have a problem with rodents or larger animals, follow a similar process to attract a barn owl to your garden or farm. Barn owls feed on rodents and are by far the best ecologically sound method of keeping a rodent pest population down. A vineyard in California created 25 owl boxes. They estimated their 18 nesting pairs of owls removed 25,000 rodents in one year. On top of that, they calculated the cost of each rodent was considerably cheaper than it would have been to install traps.
Another added benefit of having bats, owls or even ducks on your farm is that they can be an interesting educational tool or source of tourism. Installing cameras in your nesting boxes can help teach local children about your area’s natural wildlife and promote sustainable farming further.
Putting Pesticides Aside
In our recent article on the declining bee population, we discuss the negative effect that pesticides can have on our ecosystem. Using natural methods of pest control is not only an efficient and cost effective way of reducing lost crops, it will also benefit your local environment.