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Decreasing crop loss by 90 per cent with laser tech

Bird Control Group conducted successful trials and demonstrations on deterring birds with Agrilasers at agricultural fields in Argentina

Local farmers decreased their crop loss by 70-90 per cent. The projects were sponsored by the Dutch government as a part of the subsidy scheme for demonstration projects, feasibility studies and investment preparation studies (DHI).

A lot of farmers suffer from bird damage in South America. In Argentina, this applies in particular to the cultivation of sunflowers, blueberries, nuts, almonds, pecans and citrus fruits. “In recent months we have been conducting trials with our Agrilaser technology in various regions of Argentina. We wanted to test the effect of our laser technology on different birds and investigate how we can increase the profitability of the local farmers,” said Imre Knol, commercial director of Bird Control Group.

The company is the global market leader in innovative laser bird repelling solutions. The trials were done in collaboration with INTA, the only nationally and independently operating agricultural research center in Argentina.

Protecting grapes from birds

Successful results were achieved in grape growing. The Dutch laser technology has been tested at Catena Zapata vineyard, one of the most prestigious wineries in Argentina. A 39 ha field has been protected from birds by Agrilaser Autonomic for three months. The birds did not cause any damage during that period.

Another test field was left unprotected by the Autonomic on purpose. Aguila Andina de Mendoza from Catena Zapata, who was in charge of the installation and service of the laser bird repellent, stated, “The effect of the technology is impressive. We did not find any damage in the covered area. However, we saw a lot of damage in neighbouring areas not covered by the bird repelling laser.” The Autonomic was also tested at Saavedra vineyard. The results showed that there were hardly any birds left after a month of trial. “We are very happy with these results. We have been able to conclude that Agrilaser Autonomic is very effective in chasing birds in a large winery area,” said Knol.

Protecting blueberries from birds

Farmers also deal with severe bird problems at their blueberry farms in Argentina. Pigeons, starlings, tangents and the great kiskadees are the culprits there. The bird laser has been tested on four identical fields of 0.6 hectares each in collaboration with the Argentinean Agroberries. The number of birds observed was much higher (154) on two unprotected fields than on the ones that were protected by the Autonomic (31). The birds that caused the most damage to the crops are the thrush, the great kiskadees, the sayaca tanager and the Rufous-bellied thrush.

Protecting sunflowers from birds

Sunflowers also get damaged a lot by birds in Argentina. Monk parakeets like to nest on them which can cause a lot of problems. “We have done a trial in Buenos Aires. The Agrilaser Autonomic was set up on a field of 30 ha there. An adjacent field of 30 ha we intentionally left unprotected. We also clearly see here that the burrowing parrots in the protected areas don’t damage the crops. However, the monk parakeets still do cause damage but to a much lesser extent. All in all, we can conclude this was a successful test with a damage reduction of more than 85 per cent,” said Knol.

Dutch innovative laser technology

The Agrilaser Autonomic has been developed by Bird Control Group in collaboration with TU Delft. This laser technology has been successfully used in 76 countries to disperse birds. The technology is used not only in agriculture, but also in aviation, oil and gas, the real estate sector and many more applications.

The large-scale test projects in Argentina have partly realised thanks to the DHI, the subsidy scheme for demonstration projects, feasibility and investment preparation studies. In this way, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs encourages Dutch companies to successfully expand their businesses across the borders. The scheme focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises with international ambitions.