It’s one of those stories that brings a smile to your face and makes you stop and think about how we’ve taken the “easy” way out (or have been convinced of such by clever marketing) in dealing with so many challenges – at a huge cost to our environment and our own health.
A Michigan farmer has avoided the use of azinphos-methyl; a dangergous pesticide, by using pigs in his efforts against a beetle that has designs on his 120-acre organic apple orchard. The pigs eat the fallen fruit that contain the beetle larvae.
The pigs were let loose in the orchard for three days and managed to chow down 98 percent of the fallen apples. Subsequent tests on the resulting pig poo showed just about all the larvae were destroyed.
How simple is that? No complex chemicals manufactured by boffins that studied at university for umpteen years; no mixing and spraying of toxic compounds. The farmer is happy and I’m sure the pigs are as happy as the proverbial pigs in sh… anyhow. Aside from the beetle reduction, there’s the compost produced by the pigs and the farmer will also be able to sell the animals for their meat – and organically raised meat at that; which has a far higher value (apologies to vegan readers).
Simple. Brilliant. Love it.
This type of strategy is a form of permaculture – an approach to agriculture whereby the relationships between elements are carefully considered in order to produce the best outcomes with minimum effort; for humans and the wider environment.
There’s all sorts of simple things that even the back yard vegetable gardener can do to protect their crops from pestilence without the use of nasty chemicals. For example, planting rosemary around a veggie patch is said to help ward off snails and slugs. Planting a sacrifice crop, i.e. one that will attract pests away from the plants you wish to keep is another option.