Send the cows: West Japanese town rents cattle to graze on land where agricultural pests hide

Hatsumi and Nogiku cows graze on deserted arable land in Shimonoseki town, Yamaguchi prefecture, August 11, 2021. (Mainichi / Nanami Otsubo)

SHIMONOSEKI, Yamaguchi – In an effort to prevent pests from damaging agricultural and forestry crops, the Asaoi district of this western Japanese city allows cows to graze on deserted arable land where deer usually hide , wild boars and other animals.

The “Yamaguchi-type grazing system” is already in use in the prefectural towns of Yamaguchi, Shunan and Iawakuni, and it is hoped that the method will prove effective against the increasingly serious problems associated with wildlife and agriculture. .

The grazing system, unique to Yamaguchi Prefecture, consists of letting cattle graze on rice fields and deserted arable land surrounded by electric fences.

Among the expected benefits of the program are the elimination of deserted arable land, saving labor in the management of animal husbandry, and serving as a pest prevention measure by letting the cows graze everything. by creating beautiful views – an environment that makes it harder to approach wild animals and human settlements.

Damage to agricultural and forestry crops in the prefecture amounted to about 400 million yen (about $ 3.6 million) in FY2020, with some 40 percent of the damage in the town of Shimonoseki. In the Asaoi neighborhood in particular, rice, wheat, pasture and other crops have been damaged by about 2.5 million yen (about $ 22,700), and the problem is getting worse. .

In February, the same neighborhood drew up a comprehensive pest control plan with the support of the Yamaguchi prefectural government and the Shimonoseki municipal government. Along with the installation of protective fencing and environmental improvement of community forests, expectations are also high for the Yamaguchi style grazing scheme.

Asaoi district also uses the prefectural government’s “cow rental system” to borrow them for grazing, and has borrowed two Japanese black cows from Yamaguchi Technology Center of the Agricultural Livestock Technology Section and forester: Hatsumi, 10 years old and Nogiku, 6 years old. In early August, the couple were left to graze on 0.5 hectares of deserted arable land filled with weeds about 1.5 meters high.

A member of the Asaoi Residents’ Association told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We would like the two cows to do their best to prevent these places from becoming hiding places for deer and wild boar.

(Japanese original by Nanami Otsubo, Shimonoseki Bureau)

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