What information can you give me on stocking densities for weeder geese?
E.D.MarylandAnswer: Thank you for your ATTRA request on the stocking densities for weeder geese. According to Dave Holderread in ‘The Book of Geese’, “The number of weeders needed depends on factors such as time of year, climate, crop, volume of noxious vegetation that is present when the birds are put to work and whether or not the middles of rows are mechanically tilled. In most cultivated crops, if geese are placed in the field before there is a heavy growth of unwanted grass and broad leaf plants, two to four birds per acre are normally sufficient. In uncultivated fields, approximately twice as many geese will be required.”Metzer Farms, a hatchery of duck and geese, gives the following example “an acre of strawberries in the Northwest, that is cultivated between rows, will require a minimum of 6 geese.” They suggest that since the numbers of geese necessary vary from site to site, it is best to estimate and then adjust through observation and experience. Surplus geese can always be sold off. More information on weeder geese from Metzer Farms can be found at: http://www.metzerfarms.com/UsingWeederGeese.cfmThe Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)program funded a project which studied the ‘Effects of Cover Crops on Weed and Insect Management in Blackberries’. In this project they also experimented with weeder geese, specifically White Chinese, within the blackberries. A summary of the project can be found by going to http://www.sare.org/projectsand searching the project code FS99-085. A full report on the project is available through your SARE region. The Northeast Region SARE can be contacted by phone at 802-656-0471, and by email at neSARE@uvm.edu. Since each system is different in a variety of ways, the answer is not real cut and dry. I hope this information will help give you an idea of the numbers needed for your operation.