It is well understood that crop damage from bird pressure is one of the single largest factors effecting growers yields the world over. Commodities such as grapes, kiwi fruit, cherries and blueberries are particularly affected.
Birds, just like humans get scared when they are exposed to something that stimulates their senses enough to shock them. All current products on the market have focused on using this scare tactic to disperse birds once they have settled and are already feeding. The problem with repeatedly using the same method to scare birds is that over time the reaction caused by that stimulation to the senses reduces and so birds just adapt. They may take flight when scared but will quickly re-settle and resume feeding. Products like gas cannons, bird screechers, water blasters and scarecrows all fall into this category and growers usually end up wasting money and time on all of them in an attempt to keep birds away.
Netting remains the prime weapon used by growers to keep birds out. Netting is very expensive due to its labour intensive requirements to erect and disassemble each year. Permanent netting over larger crops like cherries is a major infrastructure cost and birds still find a way in.
Frustrated with all of the above, back in 2012, a Central Otago wine grower with a background in Biochemistry set out to provide a solution to this problem. He had studied research papers on the idea that birds, unlike humans, are able to see polarised light and may use this light as part of their navigation system. He postulated a theory that if he could vary polarised light across their flight paths then potentially it would temporarily disrupt their guidance systems and they would leave that area.
He set about designing a system to achieve this and mounted it in his vineyard and took the brave step of not putting nets across 12 rows of vines. To his amazement none of the exposed vines were attacked!
Initial designs and trials with grapes showed positive results, significantly reducing bird pressure over the protected area and providing a highly cost-efficient alternative to the nets and bird scaring systems that growers grapple with every season. Realising the huge potential of the invention he approached patent specialists and venture capitalists in Auckland to set about raising funds from investors. A global patent on the technology was lodged and Envisi began.
Although Envisi’s origins are in grapes, our technology can be applied to any area where birds are a nuisance. For now we are focusing on fruit crops, namely grapes, cherries and kiwi fruit but we are also looking into protection of other crops susceptible to bird pressure plus other markets such as:
- Refuse and waste management
- Food store warehousing
- Fish farms
- Offshore platforms