Drones for bird control - how it works
Drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), once a futuristic idea, are now part of everyday life changing the way things are done in many industries.
But what about drones for bird control in crops, orchards and vineyards? Are they effective, what are the restrictions and how do they really work?
Most bird species have a natural, inbuilt fear of predators. Anything strange or predator-like flying above them, is perceived as a threat. A drones visual impact and noise, combined with its ability to fly quickly and randomly across an area, means it is quickly perceived by birds as a threat. Combine this with a sound unit producing predator, bird alarm and harassment sounds, you then have a realistic bird predator situation that is extremely threatening and terrifying to most bird species, causing them to flee the area.
Finding a suitable drone
When investigating drones that were suitable for use as bird deterrents in crops and vineyards, we found we needed a drone that could not only carry a bird sound deterrent, but a drone platform that could fly for long periods of time (semi-autonomously), in most weather conditions and was strong enough to handle the extremes of the New Zealand environment. We found the market was lacking in something that was cost effective and fulfilled these requirements. We then embarked on a mission to build from the ground up, a drone platform that would meet these requirements. After 2 and a half years of product development and testing, Enduracopter was born.
Semi-autonomous drones for bird control - how it works
Semi-autonomous flying makes drone use simple. On the computerised drone controller, a map of the area is loaded in. This is then setup with boundary areas and preset points to create flight paths for the drone. The best flight paths to use and the height to fly the drone does depend on the bird pressure, where the birds are living and the time of the day the drone is used. Multiple flight paths can also be setup and used at different times, see image below.
Providing someone is in line of sight of the drone, semi-autonomous flying allows growers to use drones to deter birds, with little flying knowledge and labour input. Enduracopter UAVs, have long flight times allowing them to stay in the air for 40 - 55 minutes (depending on the model). Once the drone returns from it's flight, all that is required is to change the battery before send the drone off again. As the battery charge time on Enduracopter UAVs is similar to the flight time, if 2 batteries are used, the drone can be almost continuously kept in the air.
The effectiveness of drones for bird control - how effective is "effective"?
We believe that Enduracopter UAVs paired with a Birdzout sound unit, are one of the most effective and efficient bird deterring options available, for crops, orchards, vineyards and other large outdoor areas. Growers are telling us the same thing, with use of drones in high bird pressure areas (without netting), proving very successful. If growers can achieve results with drones, with bird damage being no more or less than that with netting, this is an effective means of bird control. Along with lasers and bioacoustic deterrents, the future of bird control is here.