Trials involving the use of laser beams to keep birds away from crops have shown ‘great results’ according to a European research consortium which is now planning to test the same approach to keep deer, rabbits and rodents from also causing damage.
Part of a three-year £2.5 million EU-funded project called LIFE Laser Fence, attention is focused on the ability on Agrilaser, a novel light technology developed by the Bird Control Group (BCG), to keep birds away from crops and ground animals away from both crops and storage areas.
While trials have shown that an approaching laser beam can deter such animals from these areas, there have been some inconclusive results.
Specialists from BCG and project leaders’ Liverpool John Moores University, are therefore working on developing new light beams with alternative characteristics, including colour and modulation.
This is based on research evidence that different animals have varying perceptions of different light specifications.
“We expect to identify which light characteristics are best suited for each species and adjust our light beams accordingly,” said BCG’s Steinar Henskes.
“For example, first trials with new wavelengths showed different responses from animals.
“For instance, blue beams may be more effective than red beams.”
With the damage caused by rats on farms in the UK alone put at up to £28m a year, interest in new non-pesticide solutions is high throughout Europe, with consortium researchers drawn from England, Scotland, the Netherlands and Spain.
Having already completed more than two years’ work, and with an end point set for later this year, the consortium is planning a new phase of extensive testing for Agrilaser’s functionality across many different types of animals.
Trials are due to begin soon in relation to preventing crop damage from deer, rabbits, wild boars and rodents, such as rats, squirrels and mice.
In addition, specific trials with rats will be undertaken in isolated barns in England and Scotland to evaluate the system’s efficiency in scaring rats away.