Keeping birds away from wine grapes
Automating the acoustical devices that keep birds away from grape crops in Ontario’s vineyards could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of these tools.
Better management options for the devices – also known as bird bangers – can reduce crop losses and improve relations with non-farm neighbours put off by the noise, according to a recently completed Ontario study.
Ontario’s grape growers lose approximately $4 million dollars annually to bird predation, making the acoustical devices essential tools in the vineyard.
How was the research conducted?
With support from the Farm Innovation Program, researchers from Weather INnovations Incorporated built and successfully tested
an automated bird banger with online control and monitoring capabilities.
This means grape growers can manage these devices, including firing direction and frequency, from their computer or smart phone. Bird bangers currently used in Ontario can only be controlled by manually adjusting the unit in the vineyard.
What did the research show?
“The success of this prototype proves that bird bangers can be controlled and monitored off-site, which lets farmers manage
them more effectively and efficiently. This saves on operating costs and keeps more of the grape crop protected,” says Debbie
Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario.
Another significant advantage is the potential to improve relations with residential neighbours, she adds. By introducing automation, farmers can monitor their devices remotely any time to minimize the impact on nearby residents.
What does this mean for farmers?
- Lower operating costs. Remote operation capabilities mean the devices can be activated when they are most needed or most effective instead of operating without interruption.
- Fewer crop losses. Devices that operate more efficiently will be more effective at keeping birds away from the grape crop. The total farm gate value of Ontario grapes grown for processing in 2011 was approximately $77 million, and approximately five percent of the crop is lost to predation annually.
- Improved neighbour relations. The noise created by bird bangers has created tension in some areas where residences are near working vineyards, straining relations between growers and their neighbours and resulting in vandalism to the devices. Automation means the bangers can be turned on only when they are needed.
Where can I get more information?
This story was originally released by the Agricultural Adaptation Council under the title “Building a better bird banger”.