Oct 25, 2017
Blueberry grower solves bird problem with laser technology

A new automated laser provides successful bird deterrent results after a few months of use at a blueberry farm in Jefferson, Oregon. Since adopting the laser as a bird deterrent solution, the blueberry farm each year saves around $100,000 and increases revenue by 33 percent.

Justin Meduri, farm operations manager of Meduri Farms, has a 168-acre blueberry farm that suffered from crop damage inflicted by birds. The annual cost of bird damage at Meduri Farms was quantified at approximately 25 percent of the overall potential crop volume, or approximately $100,000.

When Meduri looked for a bird repellent solution, he discovered the Agrilaser Autonomic via the local solutions integrator Oregon Vineyard Supply. The automated laser is used at blueberry farms around the world such as John Benson in Australia and the blueberry research farm of Oregon State University in the United States. There are 6,000 users of the laser technology worldwide. Meduri was intrigued by the possibility of the laser and leased the systems for the season from June until October. “It has been a success story ever since,” he said.

The laser bird deterrent technology takes advantage of a bird’s natural instincts. Birds perceive an approaching laser beam as a predator and take flight to seek safety. Meduri Farms installed 6 Agrilaser Autonomics equipped with solar panels at the outer areas of his farm projecting on the blueberry bushes. Therefore, preventing birds from coming near the bushes.

“Previously we had to work hard to keep the birds away. Last year before the lasers, we experienced the highest damage incurred by birds ever,” Meduri said. “Now with the lasers, we don’t even have to worry about it – we simply have no issue anymore.”

As a result of the bird deterrent lasers, Meduri Farms each year reportedly saves 578,713 lbs. of blueberries worth $99,733.

According to research done by numerous U.S. universities, American fruit growers lose tens of millions of dollars each year as a result of birds damaging crops and ineffective bird repelling methods. Oregon and Washington have the biggest blueberry crop damage caused by birds per hectare. The damage per hectare for blueberries equals to $4,571 for Oregon, and is calculated at $11,238,095 for the entire state. Current yield-loss percentage due to bird damage in blueberry production in Oregon is the highest among other states and is on average 18.2 percent. The birds responsible for damage to blueberry crops include American Robins, European Starlings and Blackbirds.

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