Laser beams are useful weapons to fight off intergalactic empires. They are also proving to be pretty helpful in the war between Canadian farmers and geese.
On the Saanich Peninsula, in the southwest corner of Canada near Vancouver, farmers are in an ongoing feud with geese. Throughout the night, their fields of grain crops are regularly raided by swarms of these squawking pests. According to the Canadian government’s Environment wing, Canadian geese have recently experienced "extraordinary growth in abundance and expanded their geographic range.” While it's good news for the conservation of this national symbol, the rise of these birds is dramatically increasing the amount of “serious conflicts" between geese and people.
Unfortunately for local farmers, the geese seem to have a particular fondness for their grains. "Especially crops like wheat and barley," Peter Rashleigh, a farmer and student working on the project, told CBC News. "They sit there all night and sort of chew away at it, and they can do significant damage to the crop."
In the latest chapter of this battle, six mechanical engineering students, many of whom are farmers, have created a "high-tech scarecrow" at the University of Victoria on Canada's Vancouver Island. It simply involves projecting green laser beams to sweep over the fields. The lasers aren’t any more powerful than a standard laser pointer used for presentations, however, that’s still enough to dazzle and deter the geese.
"Geese are very effectively scared by lasers, especially green lasers, even at very low power levels. What we've done is created a device that automatically moves that laser beam across a specified target area — in this case, your field — at regular intervals all night long," Rashleigh said.
He hopes to conduct further testing and fine-tune the lasers, but local farmers are already very excited at the development.
"I think people are ready for some sort of solution. Everybody knows we've got a problem and I'm hopeful that this might contribute to solving it," he concluded.