Laser idea to deter ducks

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Crop saviour: Lisa Brassington has found a way to protect both birds and crops. Image courtesy AUSVEG

MORNINGTON Peninsula horticulturalist Lisa Brassington knows that crops and ducks sometimes don’t mix, but the crafty inventor has come up with a simple solution to the problem that leaves both unharmed.

Ms Brassington, who works at Peninsula Fresh Organics in Baxter, has spent the past three years watching ducks shift from foraging for insects to organic leafy green produce as they take advantage of what she calls “the best buffet in Baxter”.

Wanting a solution that would save crops without hurting the ducks, she combined her education in rural planning and physics with her love of farming to come up with an idea using laser technology.

Ms Brassington is a finalist in the RIRDC Victorian rural women’s award for her project – Duck: stirred not shredded – which uses information she gained from European and North American farmers who use laser bird repellent systems.

After studying data on weather and climate observations, citizen science counts of bird numbers, moon cycle information and farmer feedback, Ms Brassington came up with a system to model bird and bat behaviour and combine this information with the technology.

She said all other efforts to defeat the hungry ducks were unmanageable, and current reactive methods of dealing with them, such as random loud sounds and decorative scarecrows, were ineffective.

Since the announcement of her entry, Ms Brassington has had interest from three universities and been able to help farmers work together towards a trial.

The next step, she said, would be to bring universities, the Bureau of Meteorology, Bird Life Australia and market gardeners together to workshop the idea and come up with concrete plans she can take to HortConnections 2017 in Adelaide in May.

First published in the Frankston Times – 20 March 2017

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