Australian horticulture industry
Almost 90% of all fresh vegetables stocked at Australian supermarkets are grown in Australia1. Australian vegetable growers produce a range of vegetable crops for commercial sale to meet the demands of the market. As a result of meeting the market demands, vegetable production in 2018 was the sixth-highest valued agricultural industry in Australia. The gross value of vegetable production increased in 2018 by 5% to 4.1 billion Australian dollars2.
As the gross value of vegetable production increases every year, all threats to production become more of a risk to a farmer’s supply and revenue. Wood ducks are one of the threats that have caused severe damage to vegetable crops. For example, lettuces, sweet corn, and tomatoes, which hold a high gross value. As a result of this damage, local farmers have to protect their crops in a cost and time-effective manner.
Alternative VS traditional bird control methods
There are many bird control methods available to Australian horticulture growers, but each has its limitations. Scare guns or sound-based methods create noise disturbance for neighbors. Visual methods such as a scarecrow or netting do not work as a permanent solution, as birds become habituated to them. This leads farmers to search for alternative bird control methods that will decrease their crop loss and increase their revenue. The exact scenario occurred at Gazzola Farms.
Gazzola Farms is an Australian family-owned and operated company since 1932. One of two locations on the Mornington Peninsula is run by Dean and Alex Gazzola, they manage 500 acres of vegetable crops in Boneo, Victoria. The farm grows celery all year round and iceberg lettuce from October to April. There is a heightened risk of damage by wood ducks with crops being harvested all year round.