DUCKS FOR SLUG CONTROL IN POLYTUNNEL – 3rd week in February 2015

During a week of work experience on Jim Cronin’s organic farm near Killaloe in County Clare, it was interesting to learn more about the role ducks can play in keeping slug numbers down.

Ducks cannot be let in to polytunnels unsupervised. Before long, they would get a taste for lettuce or any tasty leafy vegetable if left to their own devises. However, when the veg beds are being prepared, especially in the early spring, a few ducks can diligently search out hundreds of slugs and slug eggs. The ducks tend to focus on where the plastic sides meet

Domestic ducks on slug  and slug egg patrol in the polytunnel on vacant veg beds.

Domestic ducks on slug and slug egg patrol in the polytunnel on vacant veg beds.

the soil. This is the type of damp area where over-wintering slug eggs tend to be most plentiful.

Once the ducks have found all the slug eggs they can, it is time to drive them out of the polytunnel before they turn their attention to any precious crops which may be growing nearby in the tunnel.

Having ducks brings many benefits to organic horticulture. However, at times it is necessary to prevent the ducks from getting access to where the veg is growing. Like humans, they are omnivores and they find organic veg tasty too – and who can blame them?

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