An Argentinian winery recently conducted a trial and found that, in three months, more than £25,000 of damage was done by birds in just one field. Obviously, this level of damage is far above that which could potentially be dealt to a British farmer growing broccoli or cauliflower, but the bottom line is the bottom line.
Historically, scarecrows and more recently gas cannons have been used to keep flocks of marauding wood pigeons, collared doves, jays, blackbirds and finches away. The problem with this is that certain birds are clever and become used to these deterrents if no variation is introduced.
The most obvious and effective way to introduce variation is for someone to physically go into the field and shoot to scare. But this takes them away from another job, reducing the farm’s productivity.
This month’s challenge is to come up with a technological way to keep ravenous flocks of birds off farmers’ crops, as a solution to the problems they pose “remains elusive”, according to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Most importantly, your solution needs to be humane, must not contain any harmful chemicals but must be inconsistent with its scares to keep those pesky birds on their toes.
Our solution, Autonomic, comes from the Bird Control Group in the US in collaboration with Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Autonomic is a fully automated, environmentally friendly and silent bird repelling system that is said to provide continuous bird repelling capability. The company claims that birds perceive the system’s laser beam as a physical danger and in contrast to conventional methods they will not become accustomed to the laser. They will consider the area unsafe and will not return.
Autonomic has been tested on farms in South America where one field on each farm was protected by the system and another, containing the same crop, was left unprotected. Across the tests, crop losses in the fields protected by Autonomic decreased between 70% and 90%.
This solution works in daylight as well as at night and can also be used in sectors including aviation, oil and gas, real estate and many more.