Farmer Focus: ‘Lightsaber’ laser torch is a good bird deterrent

At last, a brief spell of winter. There has been far too much charlock in some of the oilseed rape this year, which as I write is succumbing to the hard frosts that have finally arrived.

Despite having below average rainfall of 64mm in December, the fields have just felt really wet, which I think is due to the amount of rain that fell in August and never really had a chance to dry out.

So instead of the deluge that the poor people further up country received, we just kept getting small amounts most days.

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However, as 2016 began the real rain started and by 12 January we had received more rain than in the whole of December.

The Thames went from low to above average in the space of about a week, but luckily only some minor flooding occurred.

This winter has seen me pacing the fields like an agricultural version of Darth Vader armed with my “lightsabre”.

Our local agricultural parts supplier APM offered me a trial with their version of the laser torch. Like most farmers I am a born sceptic and considered this to be yet another gimmick in “must have” bird deterrents.

At the time we had a problem with geese in a field of wheat towards the river.

Paddy, my faithful collie and I had spent hours trudging across the field to move them on, only for them to land a few hundred metres further away.

So armed with my lightsabre and a huge amount of doubt I arrived at the gate. The geese were at least 600m away – “no chance” I thought.

Anyway, one quick wave and they were in the air and on their way with absolutely no intentions of landing elsewhere in the field.

The laser torch was a success and is now a constant companion in my battle with our feathered friends. The only fault is it does not work very well on sunny days, but we have had precious few of those this winter.

May the force be with you.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

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