Bandicooting is digging up potatoes or other root crops, leaving the top of the plants in place in the soil and able to keep on growing and producing more root crops.

It is usually done at night by poor people stealing food. By doing it this way, they leave little trace and don't upset the farmer because the plant keeps producing. Some farmers turn a blind eye to it as a way of caring for people less fortunate than themselves.

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By leaving the tops in place and thus growing, the thieves make it less likely that the farmer will notice and they show consideration for the farmer's aims by not damaging the crop's ability to produce. Some children in large poor families lose many or all of their fingernails through bandicooting.

Despite its criminal origins, it is a useful harvest method for other people who only want to take a little at a time and who want to leave the tops to continue producing. This suits backyard vegetable growers and some small-scale farmers with specific needs and a good supply of cheap labor.

A bandicoot is an Australian marsupial that digs by night for delicacies in the root zone of plants. Presumably it chooses the area near the plant because the high biological activity gives it the best chance of soft soil and a good food supply. It leaves a conical hole in the ground. It is shy and rarely seen.

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This page was updated on December 27, 2007