Vineyards – like many other types of farms – have long struggled to protect their crops from pest birds. Traditional solutions, like netting, work to some effect, but often fall short of expectations. Due to these shortcomings, more vineyards are turning to a new form of innovative technology to reduce labor costs and increase crop yields.
The Shortfalls of Netting on Vineyards
For decades, netting has been the industry standard solution to mitigate bird-related crop loss due to its flexibility and relative effectiveness compared to long-standing, commercially available alternatives. However, there are direct and indirect costs associated with this solution:
- Product: netting directly costs hundreds of dollars per row, as well as requires adequate storage and maintenance to ensure asset longevity
- Labor: installing and removing netting is a labor-intensive process that directly costs vineyards hundreds of dollars per day per acre
- Efficacy: netting different varieties of grapes that ripen at different times can be difficult to coordinate to ensure the maximum mitigation of crop damage; furthermore, if installed suboptimally, netting can even damage the grapes/vine branches themselves
Andrew Roush, the owner of Petoskey Farms Vineyard and Winery in Petoskey, MI used netting to protect his crop for years – and the results were underwhelming.
“Historically, we used netting to limit loss and damage from birds to our grape crop,” he said. “[But] netting is a big labor expense and the bird pressure was getting progressively worse. [With netting alone], we lost 35-40% of our grape yield and were forced to pick earlier.”
Guard Grapes with Lasers
These persistent challenges can be remedied through the use of innovative technology: an automated laser. The AVIX Mark II automated laser was specifically designed to address bird damage issues for the agricultural sector. Compared to netting, the automated laser:
- Product: provides continual (24/7) protection to vineyards with a lifespan of up to 10 years
- Labor: minimal labor costs to setup and limited maintenance thereafter
- Efficacy: up to a 90% reduction in bird damage due to the random and customizable laser tracking pattern with no damage to grapes/vines
These factors motivated Roush to procure and deploy the innovative technology for his next growing season. In 2021, Wild Goose Chase installed two AVIX Mark II lasers to cover his vineyard and, as a result, the total crop loss was just 3%. “And we were able to let the fruit hang late,” Roush added.
Your Partner in Vineyard Bird Control
Since 2015, Wild Goose Chase has been a master distributor of Bird Control Group products and has managed the installation of over 200 lasers across multiple industries. To learn more about how automated lasers can help your vineyard reduce labor costs and increase crop yields, please contact us.