ARGENTINIAN fruit and nut farmers have reported that trials on bird-deterrent lasers decreased their crop loss by between 70 to 90%.

The Agrilaser trials, subsidised by the Dutch government as a part of a scheme to support demonstration projects and feasibility studies, have been warmly welcomed by farmers in the South American country, where bird damage is a major problem in the commercial cultivation of sunflowers, blueberries, nuts, almonds, pecans and citrus fruits.

"In recent months we have been conducting trials with our Agrilaser technology in various regions of Argentina," said Bird Control Group commercial director Imre Knol. "We wanted to test the effect of our laser technology on different birds and investigate how we can increase the profitability of the local farmers."

The Dutch laser technology also passed muster at the Catena Zapata vineyard, one of the most prestigious wineries in Argentina, where a 39 hectare field has been protected from birds by Agrilaser Autonomic for three months. The birds did not cause any damage during that period.

Another test field was left unprotected by the Autonomic on purpose – and there the damage reached almost €28,000 during the same test period. The vineyard's Aguila Andina de Mendoza, who was in charge of the installation and service of the laser bird repellent, stated: “The effect of the technology is impressive. We did not find any damage in the covered area. However, we saw a lot of damage in neighboring areas not covered by the bird repelling laser.”

Blueberry farms in Argentina also deal with severe bird problems, with pigeons, starlings, tangents and the great biskadees the main culprits. In collaboration with the Argentinean Agroberries, the bird laser was tested on four identical fields of 0.6 hectares each. The number of birds observed was much higher (154) on two unprotected fields than on the ones that were protected by the Autonomic (31). “This is a nice result especially because blueberries have a very high cost value per hectare," said Mr Knol.

Sunflowers also suffer a lot of bird damage, because Monk parakeets like to nest on them. Again, the laser deterrent produced good results: "The Agrilaser Autonomic was set up on a field of 30 hectares. An adjacent field of 30 hectares we intentionally left unprotected. We also clearly see here that the burrowing parrots in the protected areas don’t damage the crops. However, the monk parakeets still do cause damage but to a much lesser extent. All in all, we can conclude this was a successful test with a damage reduction of more than 85 %," he said.

The Dutch laser technology developed by Bird Control Group has now been successfully used in 76 countries to disperse birds, not only in agriculture, but also in aviation, oil and gas, the real estate sector and many more applications. The large-scale test projects in Argentina were supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs fund to encourage Dutch companies to successfully expand their businesses across the borders.