Farm Shares Plans for Low-Cost Laser Scarecrow

Family-owned Elliot Farm in Lakeville, Massachusetts, specializes in sweet corn, but the farm experienced 80% crop loss in 2016 due to damage from red-winged blackbirds, despite efforts to keep the pests at bay. Southeast Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership reports that in 2017, Elliot Farm joined a laser-scarecrow feasibility study. Laser scarecrows proved effective, but commercial products are expensive and out of reach for small farms that may have scattered crop fields. In 2018, working with a SARE grant, Elliot Farm designed an effective laser scarecrow prototype that costs less than $500. This device reduced crop damage to 20%, and when it was combined with a bird distress call, damage dropped to 8%. Plans for the laser scarecrow are available from the Elliot Farm website. They are free for personal use.