Testing a Novel Zip-line/Curtain Netting Exclusion System for Protection of Perennial Berries from Birds/Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD)

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,922.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Full Fork Farm
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Anson Biller
Full Fork Farm


  • Fruits: berries (brambles), berries (other)


  • Crop Production: alley cropping, cropping systems
  • Pest Management: physical control, row covers (for pests)
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis

    Proposal summary:

    Crop loss due to bird pressure is a critical issue faced by fruit
    farmers with substantial economic impacts. As well,
    spotted-winged drosophila (SWD) has become a growing insect
    concern for fruit producers. For both birds and insects,
    exclusion netting has been demonstrated to be one of the more
    effective ways to mitigate the problem, but not without its own
    implementation challenges. This includes: high installation cost,
    need for proper timing after pollination, requirement of multiple
    workers for deployment, human/vehicle access concerns, and
    ability to survive high winds/winter storage.

    This research project seeks to explore a novel netting system
    that utilizes the concept of a zip-line/double curtain to prevent
    crop loss due to birds and SWD while addressing the primary
    issues farmers face implementing netting systems. We will build
    18 of these trellises on the farm using various hardware and
    netting materials readily available to farmers. This will include
    two 180' fall-bearing thornless raspberry rows and two 180'
    thornless blackberry rows for testing its effectiveness at
    excluding SWD, and 14 of our 28 200' honeyberry rows to test for
    bird exclusion.

    Data and information to be collected includes: design and
    material successes/failures; system costs, labor costs in
    construction and in operation; yields and yield loss;
    temperature/humidity differences between netting options, and
    qualitative feedback on materials and the design.

    Outreach will be conducted through online social media, two
    on-farm events, through conversations with customers during
    u-pick season, and - if of interest to MOFGA - an article written
    for the organization's newsletter.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to:

    1. Construct and compare a set of plans for a post and wire
      zipline trellis support structure. It will be made from
      materials that growers can readily purchase through building
      and farm supply companies, as well as through 3D printing.
    2. Compare varying material option combinations for project
      construction to offer feedback to farmers looking to replicate
      the system. (See attached chart.) This will include qualitative
      observation as well as material cost/labor analysis.
    3. A 3D-printed model will be tested, and refined designs will
      be made freely available on the Internet for others to use.
    4. The efficacy of the system will be tested. Yield/yield loss
      data will be collected comparing SWD damage in the farm's
      raspberry and blackberry rows covered with 70g Proteknet and
      Typar T-518 against open field conditions. Yield/yield loss
      comparison will be collected in the honeyberry block comparing
      the various netted rows and open-field control rows for bird
    5. Temperature/humidity data will be collected under the
      different netting materials and considered for correlation with
      crop yield differences.
    6. I will teach growers how to construct their own support
      structures through social media posts, two on-farm field days,
      and a MOFGA newsletter article in the second year.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.