Skip to main content
Skip to main content

WKU News

iPod-powered scarecrows could help subsistence farmers protect crops

iPod-powered scarecrows could help subsistence farmers protect crops

 

WKU researchers are developing

WKU researchers are developing “high-tech scarecrows” to reduce crop damage in South Africa. From left in this 2012 photo on the Balule Nature Reserve are Mark Cambron, Department of Engineering; Molly DuVall, graduate student; Bruce Schulte, Department of Biology; Michael Stokes, Department of Biology; Shilo Felton, graduate student.

iPod-powered scarecrows could help subsistence farmers protect crops: When your life depends on the survival of the crops in your garden, as it does for many subsistence farmers across the world, one raid from the animal kingdom can be a serious setback, so solutions for mitigating these human-wildlife conflicts can have end up having a huge positive impact on the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable farmers. A group of scientists from WKU, along with collaborators in Africa, are working on a potential solution for keeping wild animals from wreaking havoc on crops and fields by combining the age-old remedy of using a scarecrow to warn off wildlife with a bit of a high-tech component – an iPod.

Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s BREAD program, a team of scientists, including wildlife ecologist Michael Stokes and elephant expert Bruce Schulte, from Western Kentucky University (WKU), have been developing a motion activated scarecrow that uses a hacked iPod to control a variety of animal deterrents.

According to Txchnologist, upon being activated by nearby motion, the iPod-powered scarecrows broadcast sounds and stimuli that can deter wildlife, including the roar of lions and animal distress calls accompanied by a flashing strobe light, as well as releasing scents that are alarming to other animals, such as urine from predators.

This “High-tech Scarecrows for Low-tech Farms” project doesn't pretend to aim for complete crop protection from animal foragers, but to instead reduce the amount lost to wildlife, as Stokes states, “If we can reduce crop damage by 10 percent as crops are coming to ripeness, we have been successful.”

"The intention of this research project is not to prevent all HWC, but to determine if changes in animal behavior can be characterized that may reduce specific, common types of crop damage during growing seasons, that in the long term will increase the yield of small shareholder farmers. Reducing HWC by even a few percentage points by disrupting foraging behaviors of animals at the agricultural-wildlife interface could improve food security in areas of Africa where the spectacular wealth of the wildlife resource contrasts with the often desperate poverty of the subsistence farmers." - NSF

The scarecrows aren't intended as a be-all, end-all solution to replace other animal deterrents, but rather to be used when the risk of loss is the greatest, by keeping animals off guard that may have become accustomed to conventional scarecrows. As part of this research project, a digital library of behavioral data, sounds, and schematics for building devices such as the scarecrow or animal training collars will be developed by the Department of Biology at WKU and made available on the web for NGOs or other interested groups.

Categories
All News  Now Viewing Category: All
Media Relations
President Caboni News
CEBS
CHHS News
Gordon Ford College of Business
Ogden News
PCAL
Academic Affairs
WKU Regional Campuses
Glasgow News
Etown & Fort Knox
Owensboro News
Transportation
The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky
The Center for Gifted Studies
Police
Emergency Preparedness
Facilities
Housing & Residence Life
Student Activities and Organizations
Augenstein Alumni Center
Campus Activities Board
The Confucius Institute
Cultural Enhancement Series
DELO News
Department of Music
Department of Theatre & Dance
Development and Alumni Relations
Downing Museum
Downing Student Union
Employee Wellness
Hardin Planetarium
Health Services
Human Resources News
Instruments of American Excellence
International Student Office
Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport
Library News
Math News
Office of International Programs
Office of Research
Office of Sustainability
Parent's Association
School of Journalism & Broadcasting
Student Financial Assistance
Scholarships Student Financial Assistance
Student Employment
Student Government Association News
Student Research Council
Study Abroad
Van Meter Auditorium
WellU
WKU Educational Leadership Doctoral Program News
WKU Joint Admissions
WKU Parent and Family Weekend
Latest Headlines
WKU President Caboni visits Glasgow, honors area students

Western Kentucky University President Timothy C. Caboni was honored during a welcome reception at WKU-Glasgow Wednesday afternoon.

WKU's student publications finalists in all 4 Pacemaker categories

For the first time, WKU Student Publications has four finalists for national Pacemaker awards -- one in each category in which the Associated Collegiate Press honors the nation's best student-run publications.

Estate gift to support several areas on WKU campus

WKU has received an estate gift of more than $2.5 million from the late Beulah R. Winchel.

Featured Articles
Estate gift to support several areas on WKU campus

WKU has received an estate gift of more than $2.5 million from the late Beulah R. Winchel.

WKU Police Department to debut new uniforms

The WKU Police Department will be sporting a new look on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 23).

Kappa Delta Sorority to formally receive national honor Sept. 23

The WKU chapter of Kappa Delta Sorority will have plenty to celebrate Sept. 23 as it formally receives Kappa Delta’s highest honor for a collegiate chapter. The award presentation will begin at 11 a.m. at the chapter house, 1600 Chestnut St.

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 
 Last Modified 5/2/17