Fruit growers have to deal with birds flocking in to eat their cherries, apples, blueberries and more, and Starr Ranch Growers has seen positive results from a high-tech, humane deterrent.
The company had used bird squawkers and propane cannons as effective measures to scare the birds out of orchards, but these options were not appreciated by nearby residents, according to a news release.
Last year, Starr Ranch Growers tested a solar-powered laser technology from European company Bird Control Group, installing it above a cherry orchard and then moving it to a Honeycrisp block in Lake Chelan, Wash.
The system works by mounting a swiveling laser light on a tall pole or other structure overlooking orchards or fields. The green light darts around in a preset pattern over and through the trees, and each laser can cover 40-50 acres, according to the release.
“It’s the visual movement of the laser moving through the orchard canopy that the birds see and move away from,” Jeff Cleveringa, Starr Ranch Growers’ head of research and development, said in the release. “No birds are harmed! Only scared away.”
The lasers are powered with batteries recharged by solar panels, according to the release.
This season, the company has laser systems installed in two locations, one in the Quincy area and the one in Lake Chelan, with cherries, blueberries and Honeycrisp apples covered.