Testing the Potential of Unmanned Aerial Systems to Deter Pest Birds

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are a promising technology with several potential agricultural applications, including pest management for fruit and vegetable crops. We propose to conduct preliminary trials with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to test their potential as a deterrent to pest birds during 2018. We will conduct tests in tree fruit orchards near the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station in one of Michigan’s critical fruit production regions.
We have a collaborator willing to fly their UAV in accordance with our protocols and several growers interested in working with us on the project. We will monitor pest bird activity in orchards before, during, and after UAV flights. We will collect data on the bird species present, their behaviors, and responses to the UAV during the trials. We will also test at least two different flight protocols and potentially more if weather and logistics allow. Results will be evaluated and used to determine the potential of the technology for pest bird deterrence and the feasibility of applying for funding for larger‐scale trials.