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Farmers Are Ditching Scarecrows for Laser Beams

Don't worry, we're not frying birds.

I think it’s fair to say that the lifestyle of a farmer is equal parts challenge and reward. Along with the independence of running your own business and embracing the role as society’s kitchen, are the difficulties of dealing with rising fuel, feed and pesticide costs, as well as volatile weather pattens and crop prices.

All of these factors have led to a number of technological enhancements meant to assist the agricultural community. From autonomous, electric tractors to the use of sensors and data-driven software to ensure the ideal management of fields and irrigation resources, the digital age is offering solutions as relevant to the server farm as the vineyard.

Among the challenges that technology hopes to address is the negative impact of birds. Farmers in California have seen our feathered friends account for up to $4,000 dollars in annual damage per acre.

It seems the days of the scarecrow are numbered, with a possible replacement being the AVIX Autonomic Mark II autonomous laser system. And before you get PETA on the line, no, we not talking about frying birds as they attempt to swipe a couple berries or nibble on some corn. 

Rather, the system transmits a 3B green laser light. This means it operates on a frequency that the birds see as a solid object. So, when the laser is fired, they fly away in anticipation of being swatted by the equivalent of the Incredible Hulk’s backhand.

The reality of course is that it is just a highly sustainable light that can be programmed with 150 unique patterns, 2,400 individual waypoints and 20 different time periods, with each pattern and waypoint potentially assigned a different time slot for continuous bird repulsion activities.

According to the system’s manufacturer, Bird Control Group, it can reduce bird damage by more than 70 percent without causing any harm to the birds or the environment. It’s also programmed and monitored by a mobile app. 

The individual lasers can be installed and working within hours, with a range, depending on weather conditions, of up to 1,600 yards. 

The biggest obstacle is probably not going to be embracing a new technology or saying goodbye to our straw-stuffed crop guardians. Most farms will need to utilize multiple lasers to realize the optimal benefit, and each unit carries a price tag of over $10,000. 

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