BREAD: Development of Automated Systems to Increase Crop Yield by Reducing Group Foraging Intensity by Crop Pests (Western Kentucky University Research Foundation)
Researchers from Western Kentucky University and the University of Nairobi are developing low-cost, automated systems to reduce crop damage by large mammals in sub-Saharan Africa, where some areas have seen crop losses greater than 90 percent.
Across Africa, the top vertebrate wildlife pests include birds, primates, elephants, a variety of antelope species, buffalo, pigs and porcupines. While crop damage due to wild mammals is a major problem for subsistence farmers living near wild lands or protected areas, these animals are vital and visible parts of ecosystems and the source of much foreign income from ecotourists.
This study supports the development and testing of devices that are animal-triggered, nonlethal and portable; they distract wildlife from feeding while alerting farmers to the presence of crop predators. These "scarecrows" emit stimuli, including sounds, lights and smells, in random sequences from a suite of stimuli proven to ward off targeted species of crop predators.
In the first six months of the study, students discovered that the sounds of predators effectively frighten some species of herbivores, while novel noises are required to chase other species from food plots.
Study reveals how modularity hastens adaptation while limiting costly solutionsResearch Areas: Biology Locations: Michigan, International
Taking a cue from nature when it comes to managing fragile ecosystemsResearch Areas: Engineering, Biology Locations: North Carolina, International