The fishing pond industry suffers severely from flocks of birds that pass over Israeli skies during the various seasons. The Cormorant season has ended and the start of the winter season will bring seagulls and others. These birds thrive on food served by fish farmers and even more, delight on the fish frenzy. Damage can cause a 30-40% reduction in crop yield.
In order to deal with the birds, devices that create noise and panic have been used in the past. Unfortunately, birds have adapted and this method has almost been abandoned.
Then farmers began to cover pools with nets at a cost of about $10,000 per dunam. This expensive solution is of medium effectiveness. Birds tore the net, penetrated to the pond water, ate well and exited through the same hole.
An American company has produced a special light beam with a wavelength that is visible to birds and causes a feeling of panic (see photo). This device was placed in pools of the Ministry of Agriculture for field experimentation and proved effective in reducing bird damage, but did not completely prevent it.
During a visit to Neot Smadar two years ago, we saw a prototype of a device that operates on a weather vane and is powered by air pressure. This device was tested in a large local building and was proven effective against severe pigeon droppings on its floor.
This prototype has since undergone many changes. With the aid of a small $10,000 ICA grant, the developer managed to receive 450,000 NIS from the Innovation Authority to further upgrade the device.
A pool, located in the experimental pools of the Ministry of Agriculture, can be seen in photo below. The 4-dunam pool was covered with a network of pipes, whereon wind sprinklers were installed. The sprinklers are activated when an infrared sensor detects waterfowl penetration into the pond. At this stage of development, upon receipt of the signal that there is bird runoff into the pool the entire system is activated. In order to conserve energy, an improvement will have to be developed so that the system will trigger only a wind sprinkler near the bird and not all the sprinklers.
This experimental system concludes its first year of operation with signs of optimism. The control system, built by a Kibbutz Samar technology company, showed good efficiency.
Compared to three other pools, one with a net and two others without any treatment, it can be stated that this system was the most efficient. I must emphasize that this was neither a quantitative nor an accurate scientific experiment, but only a comparative one.
Simultaneously, many fishermen began to consider the placement of solar panels on the pond’s surface. This could help the fish to hide from the birds, make it difficult for the birds to enter the water and, moreover, would enable increased income from electricity generation. In addition, the wind sprinkler system was installed on the solar panels and showed efficacy in shade prevention and feces scattering. This experimental system will also undergo an upgrade in the coming year.
Four years ago the wind sprinkler project was initiated at the Eilot Accelerator in Yotvata. Avi, an entrepreneur from Neot Semadar is leading this project under my guidance. Another wind-sprinkler goal will be the prevention of pigeon penetration on airport runways.