Laser scarecrows keep birds away from crops | Inquirer Technology

Laser scarecrows keep birds away from crops

08:04 AM January 25, 2024

Scientists have created a new deterrent against crop-damaging birds: a laser platform they call “Laser Scarecrows.” They shoot non-lethal light beams to scare avian pests away. Unlike conventional methods, it is more effective and less expensive. As a result, the experts believe this machine could be the solution to this ancient problem.

Humans have been cultivating crops for thousands of years, so our ancestors have found ways to scare away pests. We’ve been putting pesticides and deploying patrols, but these harm farmer crops and revenue. Fortunately, initial tests reveal this laser is safer and cheaper than past methods and might work on other pests.

This article will discuss how the laser scarecrow works. Later, I will show how artificial intelligence and robots improve food production worldwide.

Why use a laser scarecrow?

Watch a cornfield or any farm on TV or online, and you will likely see a few sticks and clothes arranged to look like humans. Those are scarecrows, and they’re common in many fields worldwide. 


However, it doesn’t work because crows are extremely intelligent. Science website Popular Mechanics says crows can reason, remember faces, and adapt to situations.

That means they quickly realize scarecrows are harmless and free to feast on a farmer’s crops. That is why they devised other methods to keep their fruits and vegetables safe.

Some applied poison to their fields to deter winged pests, but it contaminated crops and the soil. Others sent roving parties with dogs to chase birds away, but they typically cost farmers a lot of money.

That is why University of Florida Professor Kathryn Sieving proposed using lasers to scare birds away safely and effectively. She and her colleagues tested it on sweet corn because it has a short ripening period called the “vulnerability window.” 


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“Birds only attack sweet corn during the brief ripening phase (called the milking stage), and it lasts only 5-10 days,” Sieving explained. “So, as soon as it ripens, harvest begins. Therefore, in sweet corn, the protection does not need to last very long.”


Birds could get used to the laser blasts and ignore them if the tactic lasts too long. Then, they tested two artificial cornfields. They designated the first as a “stick field,” where sticks support ripening corn. On the other hand, the “natural field” had regular corn stalks.

In conclusion, the light beams successfully scared the birds away. Also, they were more effective in regular cornfields because they couldn’t easily dodge lasers and continue eating.

How is tech transforming agriculture?

Illustration of cutting-edge agricultural technology shaping the future of farming.
Photo Credit:

Laser scarecrows could dazzle crows away, but they don’t monitor your crops. Fortunately, you can deploy locust-like robots from the University of Illinois. 

Sameh Tawfick, the associate professor at the University of Illinois’ Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, and her team created a robot that leaps over 60 times its body size. 

The experts say they could add sensors to this bot to gather real-time crop data. They could head to a specific point, gather images, and return to its start.

You may also like: AI helps make climate-resilient crops

Farmers also worry about weeds and other plants that could damage crops. That is why Carbon Robotics created the LaserWeeder, a machine that burns away weeds with lasers. 

It can eliminate 200,000 weeds hourly and offer 80% cost savings on weed control. CEO and founder Paul Mikesell explains it is an automated drone that automatically identifies and shoots weeds using artificial intelligence. 

He says the LaserWeeder “does the equivalent work of about 70 people. As a result, Mikesell says his machine is “good for labor costs” and “good for farmers struggling with labor availability.”


Researchers invented laser scarecrows as a safe and affordable method of shooing away pests. Professor Kathryn Sieving said it could be more practical than past methods.

“If they can spend $300-$500 each for lasers to protect large fields for 1-3 weeks instead of more expensive options such as hiring people to patrol with dogs, falcons, or rifles, then lasers would be beneficial,” she stated.

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Learn more about laser scarecrows at the Wiley Online Library. Moreover, check out more digital tips and trends at Inquirer Tech.


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