Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taitung farmers offered solar-powered scarecrows

By Chen Hsien-yi and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A solar-powered scarecrow stands in a field in Taitung County on Thursday.

Photo: Chen Hsien-yi, Taipei Times

Rice farmers in Taitung County have begun using scarecrows equipped with solar panels to protect crops from birds after researchers devised the technique as a labor-saving measure.

Researchers at the Taitung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station said the solar-powered scarecrows can make noises that scare away birds without harming the animals.

Farmers normally scare birds off with cans strung together by thread or with firecrackers, but this requires them to wake early and stay out late into the night until the birds leave their fields.

One farmer surnamed Pa (巴) said he and other farmers had tried different methods of scaring birds away, adding that all of the methods they tried required constant supervision of their fields.

Even with fields being supervised it was common to lose half of a year’s harvest to birds, he said.

Station technical specialist Tseng Hsiang-en (曾祥恩) said the scarecrows are more effective than farmers at scaring birds, because several of them can be used simultaneously to cover a field.

The NT$45,000 scarecrows are cheaper than human labor in the long term, Tseng said, adding that a network of scarecrows can be set up easily.

Station director Chen Yu-chu (陳昱初) said the station hopes the scarecrows would give farmers a way to protect their crops.

“One scarecrow can cover 1 hectare of land and can run for several years using ‘renewable’ energy. The other options available are expensive and quickly break down,” Chen said.

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