Pest control What solutions against bird damage in sunflowers?

Often reported on sunflower, bird damage can represent a real obstacle to crop diversification. The last meeting “The Thursdays of TI” was devoted to this subject, the opportunity for Christophe Sausse of Terres Inovia to take stock of the solutions currently available and those to come to fight against this scourge.

Respecting the fundamentals of successful sowing and avoiding historically exposed plots remain the essentials of an integrated approach to limit bird damage to sunflower. (© Terre-net Media)

If we talk for a long time about the bird damage mature for the sunflower, “those caused by lifting have also been increasing in importance over the past fifteen years. Research is beginning to really concern itself with this, but it should be noted that we are starting from afar. There are relatively few scientific funds on this matter”, indicates Christophe Sausse, research officer and specialist in the fight against birds at Terres Inovia, during a webinar organized on September 29.

Among the main sunflower pest birds reported: the wood pigeonthe city ​​pigeonthe carrion crow and the rook. According to the data collected by the technical institute, “the damage is not so frequent, but can be severe and random”, observes the expert.

And what methods do you use?

Respect the fundamentals of a successful sowing and avoiding historically exposed plots remain the essentials of an integrated approach to limit this damage. Among the levers of struggle if not available, we can cite “the shot where the trapping authorized, outside the hunting season, on species likely to cause damage in certain departments. This classification is notably carried out every 3 years for the carrion crow and the rook, and every year for the wood pigeon”.

“The situation is well known for the carrion crow and the rook, a little less for the case of the wood pigeon, where you have to get information in each department and for some it is more difficult than others. .” With this type of device, “it is indeed necessary to collect a lot of data on the damage caused, otherwise there is no possible classification of the pests”, specifies Christophe Sausse. To this end, the technical institute has been carrying out, for more than 6 campaigns now, a declarative survey of farmers.

“Another solution put forward: scarers whether audio or visual. They make it possible to protect the plots from attacks, but their effectiveness remains variable in time and space, observes Christophe Sausse. Be careful not to install them too early to prevent the birds from getting used to them. […] Scaring by human presence also works well, but it is impractical in terms of organization. »

About repellents, “Terres Inovia carries out various tests with biocontrol products, essential oils, organic and mineral products. The effects are possible but remain weak and random. Is it really interesting for the producers, it is difficult to judge at this stage”, specifies the expert.

repellents (©Terres Inovia)

As part of the Prevot project, funded by FranceAgriMer, another lever was also tested: the sowing under cover in the Pays de la Loire. Christophe Sausse explains the protocol: “we sow barley or field beans 40 days before sowing the sunflower, then we destroy this cover when sowing. By the time the cover degrades, the birds are disturbed”. For the expert, “the technique works but remains quite complicated to set up”. Regarding the destruction of the cover, the chemical way and the mechanical way have been tested according to the plots, but for the moment, “the mechanical way has not given good results”.

Other levers to come soon?

Finally, research is continuing: “we are looking in particular at how to be able to take advantage of theartificial intelligence to fool the birds. In the project context Plant2Pro, trials are underway to use a terrestrial drone coupled with an AgriProtech scarer (sound), and with a real-time optical detection box in the plot”. Another avenue envisaged within the framework of the Prevot project, but also worked on by Limagrain (Peacor): attractive bands. The principle is to “distract the birds with easily accessible seeds, around 1% of the plot with high-density peas or soybeans, for example. The test results are not yet available, but the scenarios considered are:

  • “The band attracted the birds which also consumed the nearby sunflower”;
  • “The band did not attract the birds that went elsewhere”;
  • “The band attracted the birds and they settled there”.

starter fertilizer and biostimulants to shorten the sensitive phase of sunflower, spreading of feathers, depth and date of sowing… there is no shortage of ideas”, but to date there is still a lot of work to sort out and identify the really effective solutions as well than the possible combinations, according to Christophe Sausse.

“We also talk to ecologists to understand the variations in damage from one year to the next, depending on the plot, etc. » Terres Inovia is also organizing a symposium dedicated to bird damage and the solutions to combat it. More info to follow!

And you? What control method(s) do you use to limit the risk of bird damage to your crops? Feel free to share your feedback in the comments below the article.

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Pest control What solutions against bird damage in sunflowers?

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