11 January 2002

Safeguard rape yields by giving pigeons a scare

PIGEONS are hammering oilseed rape across the country, forming feeding routines which will hit yields and create harvest difficulties if not disrupted now.

Northants farmer and agronomist Justin Blackwood reckons numbers are as bad, if not worse, than they have been for the past 10 years. As many as 6000-7000 birds a day are attacking one large block of the crop he looks after.

"You have got to stop them getting into a habit of feeding on your crops. Keep at them until they go away. Moving them off once in the morning and then again in the afternoon is not enough."

All available methods of scaring should be used. "Creeping up on them and firing rockets over the top of the flock seems particularly effective."

Large flocks will graze several acres a day, doing most damage in February/March when crops start to grow away. Key to preventing feeding then is to disrupt the birds routine now. &#42