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Regeneratively Farming Ducks

Ducks can be a challenge when it comes farming and keeping the land in a good state, in several hours grass can become mud with just 10 ducks in 10 metre by 10 metre pen. Therefore careful management is needed, and despite this, ducks unique foraging techniques can have a real benefit onto the land.

Pictured to the left is a helpful tool often used on a farm known as a chain harrow, it is used to rip up chunks of dead grass, disperse manure, and help aerate the soil which in turn can promote faster and stronger grass growth. However it does have some disadvantages.

1) The machinery used to tow the harrow, often a tractor, can cause soil compaction as it drives, slowing root growth in turn leading to smaller and weaker vegetation. That's less carbon stored in the soil (as root matter).

2) The machinery used will likely be burning a fossil fuel, emitting CO2.

Alternatively, Ducks can have an effect very similar to the harrow, and work better. A ducks bill is their main tool, it can filter water, probe into the soil and be used as a weapon against threats. Ducks forage through rooting and probing on the very topmost layer of soil, creating little holes where they transfer water to make wells, and then vibrate their bills at incredible rates encouraging worms to the surface (worm charming). This manner of foraging also lifts dead grass and aerates the soil, as well as this, ducks have the added benefit of spreading their own manure as they go.

The aftermath of Ducks - creating holes and gently ripping grass and spreading their own fast acting manure

1) No soil compaction or burning of fossil fuels.

2) Increased drainage and less waterlogged soil (happier plant roots)

3) They produce delicious large eggs while managing the land for us.

All of these factors give opportunity for the soil to regenerate for a period of time to a better state, sequestering carbon into the earth.

Just as animals have adapted to the environment they live in, the environment has adapted to them, both reliant on each other to be at their best. Every animal has it's benefits to the farm and without them we would often have to make an extra input to maintain it. In this case, the Ducks can replace the chain harrow, and if a farmer didn't use one anyway, they can add the benefit without the negatives.

Overall ducks do not perform well when overstocked and prefer daily moves. In a very large area with less frequent moves, instead move the water to where the ground has not yet been worked through by the ducks, as they will always forage most intensively around their water source.


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