Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 11°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Video: Cavendish farmer ditches traditional scarecrow in favour of home-made drone to scare pigeons away from his crops

21:00 18 April 2014

Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.

Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.

Archant

They have ravaged the region’s fields for centuries.

Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.

But now one west Suffolk farmer has found a novel way to rid his land of pigeons that gobble up his crops – drone strikes.

Richard Maddever, said the six rotor hexacoptor, which he built from a kit at his home in Cavendish and can travel on autopilot at speeds of up to 40mph, has the potential to become a vital tool in the war on feathers.

The 27-year-old, who has now ordered a second larger drone, said he had decided to trial the system to see if there were more effective ways to control birds than traditional scarecrows and gas guns.

He added: “Every spring the pigeons become a real problem on the farm. I have got a real interest in aviation and I thought I’d try it. They are getting a bit cheaper so we thought we would trial it for pest control.”

Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.

The unit cost Mr Maddever in excess of £1,000, but could come in for as little as £500 without autopilot – about the same as more conventional, low-tech methods.The entrepreneurial farmer said: “You don’t have to suffer much from pigeons to lose £1,000 of rape.”

It is estimated that more than three quarters of East Anglia’s farmers suffer crop damage. An NFU survey carried out in 2010 reported that without preventative measures pigeons could have cost the region’s farmers between £45 million and £53 million.

Mr Maddever, who said the drone could last 20 minutes in the air, said there were other advantages to using the battery-powered hexacopter for pest control as well as pure speed.

He added: “The autopilot can fly round fields you can’t see, which is useful when you’ve got 500acres of fields. But having said that, it’s quicker and more fun to fly it yourself. As I tell people keeping it fun is half the battle with pigeon chasing; if you’re vigilant you go out and chase two or three times a day and you protect the crop more. So if it’s more fun to do then hopefully you’ll end up with a better protected crop.”

Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.Richard Maddever has built and uses an unmanned drone to scare pigeons at his west Suffolk farm.

The results have so far been promising on Mr Maddever’s farm.

He said: “I quickly learned the pigeons are more scared when it’s higher, like a bird of prey. They feel threatened by that, but I also put on some lights and a noise-maker just to make sure. The pigeons are long gone before the drone reaches them.”

Christchurch Land and Estates' proposed development of 560 homes, community centre, extra care/assisted living facility, play areas, village green, shops and employment centre off Gulpher Road, Felixstowe.

Building a massive new estate in open countryside on the edge of Felixstowe would bring more benefits than the harm it would cause, according to the developers.

Stock East Anglian train picture.

A person has died after being hit by a train this morning between Ipswich and Cambridge.

Woodbridge appears affluent but even in towns like this there is hidden deprivation.

This week’s report on Hidden Needs in Suffolk has been seen as something of an eye-opener because it shows deprivation is not confined to the council estates of our largest towns, writes Paul Geater.

Corrie McKeague on CCTV outside The Grapes pub in Bury St Edmunds

The search for RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague enters its fourth day this morning after the 23-year-old was reported missing on Monday.

Mill Acre boat lake in Sudbury is in desperate need of repair

A 44-year-old landmark at a Sudbury beauty spot built in memory of a local family who perished in an air disaster in 1971 is in desperate need of repair.

Carl Giles.

Today marks the centenary of the birth of Ronald “Carl” Giles, a treasured Suffolk icon who became Britain’s best-loved cartoonist.

Police are investigating

Detectives are appealing for information following a burglary at a home in Blackberry Way in Oulton Broad.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24