Interreg Smart Farming & Food Processing project: SCARECROW

In certain crops, such as peas and beans, viticulture, and young agricultural crops, the damage caused by pigeons, starlings, and other wildlife is significant. Typically, farmers use wildlife cannons, scarecrows, and hunters to chase away wildlife. These methods have some benefits but cause noise pollution or are limited in effectiveness because birds become accustomed to them.

Goossens Malderen, Avular, Datacation, and Qualified are joining forces to tackle this problem using drone technology. This project is supported by Interreg Smart Farming & Food Processing and Breda Robotics. The partners will develop a system through a phased approach that includes a drone, motion detection sensors, and a deterrent mechanism. A prototype will be built and tested within the project that can operate automatically and prevent birds from causing damage. The key innovations are: (1) AI algorithm for detecting target species, (2) AI algorithm for randomizing flight patterns, (3) integration of the deterrent mechanism, and (4) automatically flying drone with remote operator. Flanders Make and Fontys University of Applied Sciences will support the partners in making technological choices, conducting field tests, and developing a business case.

Both in Flanders and the Netherlands, there is a high concentration of vegetable and fruit cultivation, resulting in significant wildlife damage in the sector. The technological platform that will be developed is generic, allowing it to be applied in both Flanders and the Netherlands and for various crops. The European regulations for flying drones are the same in both regions, posing an additional challenge for the application of automated drones in agriculture. Successful bird deterrence will result in higher crop yields, providing more certainty for both the farmer (income) and the customer (supply).