Laser fence aims to protect crops from rats and other pests

Oct. 28, 2016
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University hope a "fence" of laser light will scare rats as an alternative to poison.

In a trial funded by the European Commission (EC), researchers at Liverpool John Moores University (Liverpool, England) hope a "fence" of laser light will scare rats and other pests, proving an alternative to poison. The trials will take place in Scotland, the Netherlands, and Spain starting in late 2016. The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said innovation was important to support the farming industry following Brexit.

RELATED ARTICLE: 'Photonic Fence' zaps mosquitoes with a laser

"The laser has already been produced," Alex Mason, project coordinator of the Life Laser Fence project, told the BBC. The EC contributed $1.85 million dollars to support the research. "It's a commercial product used in a number of situationsbut we are looking at using it in agricultural situations, on a wider range of species. It already works very well on birds. We hope it will work on rats, badgers, foxes and rabbits too."

The Agrilaser Autonomic is sold as a device that repels birds, which "perceive the approaching laser beam as a physical danger" and fly away, according to the manufacturer. The researchers hope it will work just as well on other unwanted animals that can destroy crops, eat food meant for farm animals, and spread disease.

Controlling pests with poisons can lead to unintended victims such as birds being killed too, so the trial hopes to reduce crop damage in the trial areas by 50%, while reducing bird exposure to pesticide by 80%.

Helen Ferrier, chief science adviser of the NFU, said, "Continuing support and funding of the agri-tech sector is vital in ensuring British science and innovation can reach more farm businesses. Agri-tech can enable the British farming industry to become more efficient, reduce our waste, provide tools to manage volatility and a fair, transparent, and functioning supply chain. An agri-tech sector we can rely on is extremely important in the face of potential political and economic changes in the next five to 10 years which could severely impact the farming industry."


About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

Sponsored Recommendations

High-index glass cutting for AR enabled by ultrashort-pulsed lasers

Dec. 11, 2023
A laser-based separation process for cutting augmented reality (AR) eyepieces made of high-index glass achieves high and predictable bending strength, and has been integrated ...

Ask the Expert: Building Better Laser Micromachining Systems

Dec. 8, 2023
Dr. Cliff Jolliffe, Head of Strategic Marketing, Industrial Automation, Physik Instrumente (PI), fields questions about integrating controls for different motion systems and lasers...

Video: December 8, 2023 Photonics Hot List

Dec. 8, 2023
In this episode, we cover a microscopy method that hits uncharted cell territory, drone-based imaging for solar farm inspection, soliton microcombs that boost conversion efficiency...

China’s industrial laser market shows steady growth in turbulent times

Dec. 8, 2023
This in-depth market update focuses on trends in laser processing and industrial lasers while touching on what to expect in the ultrafast laser, fiber laser, LiDAR, and handheld...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!