Less crop loss, a return on investment within one season and other benefits gained by John Benson’s blueberry farm with the Autonomic
|Location:||Cherokee, Victoria, Australia|
|Application context:||Blueberry farm (Food production > Vineyard & Orchard)|
|Problem definition:||Blueberries damaged and eaten by birds|
|Pest bird species:||Rosella (Psittaculidae)|
|Time of year with bird problem:||Summer (December – February)|
|Time of the day with bird problems:||From sunrise to sunset|
|Number of systems:||1 x Agrilaser Autonomic 100|
|Laser projection area:||2 – 3 ha|
|In use since:||December 2016|
|Reduction in crop loss:||65%|
|Bird reduction after Agrilaser Autonomic installation:||95%|
John Benson used all kinds of tools to disperse the aggressive birds on his farm: scarecrows, noisemakers, light reflecting shiny tapes. But nothing seemed effective enough.
Thanks to the Agrilaser Autonomic the farm saw 65% less crop loss. John Benson states that he could gain even more when he would optimize the location and timing of the laser.
Using the Agrilaser through the eyes of an academic
John Benson owns a small blueberry farm in Cherokee, Australia. Consisting of half forest and half cleared land. On the six to seven acres cleared land he grows berries that he sells on a small scale, farmers markets and such. During the summer of 2016 he started using the Agrilaser Autonomic to stand up against the beautiful, but voracious, Rosella parrots. The first season was successful, but the academic turned farmer has enough tricks up his sleeve to make the laser even more effective.
During the Australian summer of 2016 John Benson started using the Agrilaser Autonomic. His first impression being positive: “The laser works off a computer and power source and was not complicated to set up at all. It took about an hour to get everything ready to go.“ Blueberries grow significantly over the summer, something to keep in mind according to Benson. “The growth of the fruit could mean you have to reposition the laser or that you have to adjust the parameters.”
The birds ravaging the blueberry farm are the colorful Rosella parrots. Sometimes attacking with thousands at once. Benson used all kinds of tools to disperse the aggressive birds on his farm: scarecrows, noisemakers, light reflecting shiny tapes. But nothing seemed effective enough. “Some tools only work during the day or need too much monitoring, it just didn’t do the trick. I’ve seen them destroy an entire harvest within a week or two. The situation before the laser was quite horrifying: without incredible expensive netting the birds would wipe you out. With the laser this scenario is off the table. And even better, the old tools work quite good in combination with the laser.”
65% is just the beginning
The first season with the laser was very successful. According to Benson, there is much more potential. The first year was only a starting point. “It’s a learning curve. Looking back at it, I could have done a few things better. Instead of starting when the fruit is starting to show, I would activate the laser four to six weeks before. The birds then are still making their nests for spring and summer and breeding. The point is to create an atmosphere that is uncomfortable or even threatening for them. And I would also mount the machine even higher. It was now set up on an old truck. Next year I would set it up two meters higher directing towards nesting spots and the fruit.”
An ideal world with two lasers
“The Agrilaser is a terrific machine. It works even during the super bright Australian summer days. But, as an academic, I’m always thinking of how things would work even better. In my ideal world, I would have two lasers. The first laser focusing on its regular projection pattern. The other one focusing on irregular bird attacks.”