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Airports' newest groundskeepers: farm animals

Posting in Technology

Have trouble napping on planes? Fly out of Atlanta and you may soon be able to lull yourself into a slumber by counting sheep.

At airports such as Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, officials have added the animals to their grounds crew as a low-cost way to cut down on weeds and other hard-to-mow grasses on airport property.

After just two days of testing the sheep’s weed-whacking abilities in a test acre lot near Atlanta's airport, the animals had eaten through nearly half of the high-flying weeds in the area. Since the airport has about 3,000 acres of land to maintain, the sheep could prove extremely useful in making sure vegetation doesn’t grow into habitats for birds and other animals that might endanger airport activities, WXIA of Atlanta notes.

Hartsfield-Jackson isn’t the only airport catching on to the idea of animals as lawnmowers. Seattle and San Francisco have tried similar methods in the past and officials at Chicago O’Hare are currently contemplating the use of goats to cut down on weeds.

The Chicago Department of Aviation recently put out a bid calling for someone to supply goats to eat up some weeds surrounding O’Hare, a practice that could potentially cut down on the use of high-polluting, heavy machinery in hard-to-mow areas.

But for both Atlanta and Chicago, the biggest factors will come down to cost and efficiency. In Atlanta, airport officials are crunching numbers to see if the sheep can keep the land tidy more efficiently and at a cheaper cost than a human landscaping crew.

[via Jaunted]

Image: Nick Saltmarsh/Flickr

— By on September 19, 2012, 2:29 AM PST

Sarah Korones

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sarah Korones is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for Psychology Today and Boston's Weekly Dig. She holds a degree from Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure