Sep 2, 2015 | By Tess

An improved and updated version of a bird repellent, which was previously used to keep birds away from electrical and power stations, is now being adapted to be used in rice fields to help farmers protect their crops from sparrows.
In Jingzhou, a Chinese city in the eastern province of Hubei, it is nearly the season for harvesting rice, and like every other year, the farmers who make their livings from the harvest are faced with the same struggle: sparrows. The farmers have tried many different tactics to scare away and discourage hungry sparrows from eating their crops, such as placing scarecrows throughout the fields and even setting off firecrackers, but all their efforts have had poor results. Recently, however, an electrical engineer from a local power station has brought the farmers a 3D printed bird repellent in an effort to help them ward off the birds.

The inventor of the 3D printed bird repellent, engineer Chen Zhengzhi, explains the principle behind the bird repellent's efficiency. The 3D printed device plays back audio recordings of the birds' natural enemies, or other sounds they may be afraid of. The playback of sounds can also be scheduled and timed as needed, depending on the birds' patterns, so that noises aren't being played constantly.

Zhengzhi explains that when they first tried the bird repellent in the rice fields they hung it on a tree and waited to see the results. In the beginning the sounds were effective, but gradually the birds became relatively accustomed, as they sat on nearby wires calmly, not scared by the sounds. Because the bird repellent was developed specifically for electrical power systems, and the birds in the fields adapted quickly to its effects, the 3D printed device had to be improved.

Zhengzhi and his team continued to further develop their product in order to make it an effective sparrow deterrent in the rice fields by increasing the sound database from 35 types of noise to more than 300 sounds, including eagle cries, gunshots, howling wolves, and other bird cries. Additionally, they raised the volume of the audio from 70 decibels to 130 decibels. Finally, the improved repellent was able to play sounds that covered up to 5 acres of land (3333 sqm).

In August, Chen Zhengzhi ordered three of his improved bird repellent models from a specialist 3D printing company for the cost of 20,000 yuan (approx. 3,140 USD), but has stated that if put into mass production the bird repellent could cost as low as two or three hundred yuan.

Chen Zhengzhi very recently brought the newly improved 3D printed bird repellent to local farmer Mr. Peng's paddy fields. The 54 year old Mr. Peng farms about 6 acres (4002 sqm) of rice fields, and says that the sparrows in less than one month destroyed or ate about 250kg of rice per acre of land. He explains that in the six months leading up to the harvest, much time and money was invested in maintaining the crops, and that now, since the birds arrived, many of his crops have been ruined. Other villagers noted that they had never seen so many sparrows before, and that, with only ten days before the harvest, if they continued to eat the losses would be dramatic.

Fortunately for Mr. Peng and his fellow farmers, the 3D printed bird repellent worked like a charm: as soon as the sounds started playing the nearby sparrows flew away in panic. Throughout the day, though flocks of birds flew over the fields, not a sparrow was spotted.

Now, as the harvest continues to near we can hope that Zhengzhi's 3D printed bird repellent continues to work and will solve the farmers' sparrow problems.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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