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Why do British farmers use bird scarers?

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Bird scarers and bird deterrents are essential to protect many crops including oilseed rape and fruit and field vegetables from damage by wild birds. However, if used thoughtlessly they can seriously annoy and disturb the public. The National Farmers Union designed a code of practice, providing advice and guidance to farmers and landowners on how to use bird scaring devices in an appropriate manner minimising the disturbance.

What are bird scarers?

Bird scarers are devices designed to scare birds, used by farmers to dissuade birds from eating recently planted arable crops in the spring time. Bird scarers and bird deterrents are essential to control and limit the damage caused by birds. 

When and where can farmers use bird scarers?

The advice in the code of practice advises taking practical steps to minimise the impact of bird scarers on surrounding neighbours. These include:

  • Avoiding the use of bird scarers within at least 200m of residential buildings before 7am, or before 6am elsewhere, and after 10pm.
  • Minimising disturbance by placing the scarers as far away as practical and pointing away from neighbours.
  • Avoiding using on a Sunday. 
  • Avoiding positioning bird scarers adjacent to rights of way.
  • Avoiding positioning scarers near roads or bridleways.

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Are there other ways farmers can reduce the damage wild birds cause to crops?

There are steps that farmers take to reduce the need for scarers. These include:

  • Planting crops vulnerable to bird damage next to roads or other locations where the birds will be disturbed. 
  • Locating scarers as far away from buildings where people sleep or where quiet is important, so that if it is necessary to resort to the use of auditory scarers their impact will be minimised. 
  • Grow small-scale crops under netting. Fencing or electrified netting can protect crops near watercourses from swans and geese. Strings or tape suspended roughly 50 metres apart may prevent waterfowl flying into crops.


Related categories: Crops

Last edited:26 April 2019 at 15:23


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