Bird damage ‘worse this year than usual’

“I’ve been doing sunflower. We’ve always had birds […] but this is worse than usual. We resowed 13 hectares of the 57 hectares initially planted”, describes Francois Beauhairemployee on a farm in Nemours (Seine-et-Marne)

The farm on which François works is one of several dozen farms monitored by. Xavier Templetechnician at the cooperative Land Bocage Gatinais. Of the fifteen farmers who grow sunflowers, a good ten have been impacted by bird damage to seedlings, he calculates.

Drought and phytosanitary impasses

If the problem is far from new, “it has increased in recent years, assures Xavier Temple. Perhaps due to an increasing bird population. Also because the cultivation of sunflower has recently developed with the economic situation. But also because of the withdrawal of certain active substances which helped to protect the crops, ”he believes.

> Read also : Sowing, sunflower and soy are gaining ground against corn (10/05/2022)

Another disability, soil drought. It complicates the emergence of crops, thus lengthening the critical period during which birds, crows and pigeons in particular, feed on seeds or young shoots, adds Damuel Deligandfarmer in Vallery (Yonne).

Resow or leave as is?

“To resow sunflower, it takes about one hundred euros per hectare, just for the seed,” says Xavier Temple. Knowing that by sowing later, the yield may be affected. The harvest is staggered, potentially wetter, with additional drying and organization costs. Birds may return to new seedlings. And with the drought, difficult to know if the culture will lift. »

> Read also : Drought affects winter cereals (11/05/2022)

For all these reasons, Damuel Deligand chose not to resow, even if “it’s a disaster in sunflower, as in but “, he says. François Beauhaire, meanwhile, made the bet. For sowing at 75,000 vines per hectare, “we are beginning to hesitate to resow at 35,000,” he explains. Where we did, there was maybe 10,000 feet left. In places, we could see flocks of 150 pigeons, easily. When they land, they grab everything. »

13 of the 57 ha of sunflower grown on the farm where François Beauhaire works have been resown. © Francois Beauhaire

Certain cultures questioned

Scaring of all kinds, touring the plots, clearing the rows of seedlings, hunting… All control methods seem ineffective, in addition to being time-consuming. The birds end up tirelessly getting used to it, note François and Damuel.

> Read also : Control methods, preventing bird damage on sunflower and maize (03/17/2021)

“We have concerns about the peas with pigeons, we have problems with corn and sunflowers and with crows and pigeons, it becomes a real problem. [Les agriculteurs vont finir] by limiting certain cultures because of these phenomena,” warns Xavier Temple.

> Read also : Damage to crops, pending real regulation of jackdaws (17/08/2021)

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