Believe it or not, even in the hustle and bustle of the GTA, it’s not uncommon to see a flock of geese around this time of year. You’ve likely seen them yourself — either sitting together on a field, or even venturing out and attempting to cross the street.
But in less urban areas, geese can have a much more menacing presence, and are capable of doing significant damage to people’s livelihoods. In more sprawling rural landscapes, geese can actually wreak havoc on crops and destroy farmers’ fields.
This is exactly what’s been happening out West, on farmers’ fields located on the Saanich Peninsula in beautiful Vancouver Island. Geese are known to eat farmers’ crops during the night, and are particularly drawn to crops such as wheat and barley. As a result, crops can be damaged — or even entirely destroyed — by the geese’s consumption.
Students at the University of Victoria hope that their new technology can remedy this growing problem. Six fourth-year students from the school’s mechanical engineering program have created a system that will shine low-power lasers onto fields automatically, in the hopes of scaring the geese away once night falls.
According to one of the students, Peter Rashleigh, lasers frighten geese — even if they are shining at very low power. Geese are especially disturbed by green lasers, which will make the students’ technology resemble what Peter calls a “high-tech scarecrow.”
The students’ creation requires very little —if any — manpower from its human users. It is designed to automatically move its laser beam across a target area that’s already been specified, and is programmed to continue for regular intervals throughout the night. This is a crucial feature, as it allows farmers to sleep in peace.
Farmers need not be concerned about the power level of this device, either. According to Rashleigh, the handheld laser pointers that we use in presentations are more powerful than what he and his fellow students have created. In addition, the device has been designed so that it can shut itself off, in order to prevent airplanes from being affected.
While farmers on the Saanich Peninsula have heard about the students’ idea through word of mouth, it is still only a prototype — the device won’t be able to go to market until it goes through much more testing.
For more on this story, visit the CBC.
Featured image source: National Geographic