- Fruits: melons
- Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes
- Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: agritourism
- Natural Resources/Environment: wildlife
- Pest Management: eradication, integrated pest management, physical control, prevention
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities
Part of SCARS Ag, LLC consists of CARY’S YOU-PICK produce farm. Through the use of cover crops and poultry/equine manure composts, we produce various vegetables and herbs for local consumption. The operation targets area consumers who desire fresh produce that they know where it came from, and who also want to experience the joy and nutrition of handpicking the crops themselves without having a garden of their own. Consumers are allowed to harvest vegetables/herbs and pay through an honor system. We also, when time allows, socialize with the patrons sharing our techniques with them.
The you-pick is located just outside of Kearney, Mo. and is close enough to the Kansas City metropolitan area to attract northland residents. With plans for expansion, the existing “garden” consists of 1 ½ acres sitting in very productive Nodaway Slit Loam 0%-2% slopes (USDA custom soil resource report). It is bounded on two sides by woods with a creek running through them. Soil testing by the University of Missouri Soil and Plant Testing Department confirms the soil’s potential productivity.
The 2014 plan has already started with 300 hard neck Garlics (6 varieties) planted in October 2013 and Cereal Rye, Barley, and Hairy Vetch cover crops. Planting areas will be strip tilled, for onions, beets, arugula, spinach, radish, carrots, cucumber, summer squash, okra, tomatoes, peppers, corn, pumpkin, watermelon, assorted herbs, and assorted flowers. Trap crops will also be planted to manage cucumber beetles.
Our you-pick garden is, not unlike many others, in close proximity to row crop production of our neighbor’s. The preferred site selection for a garden would be as distant as possible from these operations to segregate the produce from drift from chemical use on the row crops. Many times this chemical application is hired out to CO-OPs and agricultural supply companies and applied without a great deal of concern to nearby gardens. This hazard sometimes limits site selection for a produce garden and, as in our case, places it close to a wooded area with a creek. This wood/creek topography is populated with deer and raccoons which are the basis of this research. It is well known that these two species are detrimental to the success of any garden. Most times this situation is dealt with through the use of expensive, elaborate and obtrusive fencing. As the size of the garden expands it becomes more cost prohibitive and not only restricts wildlife access but the people and equipment to work the garden.
Technology is a wonderful thing as it generally becomes less and less expensive as time goes by. Such is the case with laser technology. There are commercially available motion detection individual sprinklers that serve to fend off animal intruders on a limited basis. The sprayers cannot differentiate between animals and people resulting in people being sprayed while accessing the area. The use of a sprinkler deterrent system is harmless to the wildlife intruders, is ecologically sound, and much more economical and aesthetically appealing than fencing. It also avails itself to easy expansion and contraction of the protected area. It would be nice if one could sit out by the garden all night to activate the system when intruders approached, but we know this is not feasible. Further research and development of the design and implementation of the sprinkler scarecrow system is warranted. Initial research indicates that it is feasible to use a laser tripwire system to activate the sprinkler system and it can be designed to be activated during periods of wildlife “attack” i.e. dusk till dawn. Our theory is that a simple perimeter sprinkler system triggered by a laser tripwire would harmlessly scare away wildlife intruders. This system would consist mainly of the aforementioned sprinklers, medium intensity lasers, and photocell devices that through a set of relays activate timers and electronic water valves that would activate the system. Such a system would greatly enhance options for the small scale farmer/rancher who sustainably grows produce for market. Our intention is to develop such a system, with the assistance of the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Program and to disseminate our findings and research through a dedicated web presence and our local Extension office. Information will be provided through a series of updates on our webpage with assistance from the MU extension, and a series of field days to demonstrate the systems. Jim Pierce with Lincoln University Extension has agreed to partner with us in the outreach and education aspect of this program.
Project objectives from proposal:
As mentioned before, the outreach for this program would be through the dedicated website, Lincoln University Extension, local grower’s associations, and hands-on field days. It is hard to estimate the number of people who might gain information through the website and the Extension electronically, but it could be in the thousands. Field days throughout the twenty-month project duration would be sufficient to reach 100-150 people.
Internet research and common knowledge has revealed no wildlife deterrent systems of this nature. As stated previously, most producers rely on fencing (that we are estimating for the area of research would cost almost $6000), and chemical deterrents which both have inherent short comings. There are sprinkler-based deterrents but on a limited scale. Reviews of the most popular systems indicate its primary use is to keep the neighbors' dogs or cats from defecating in the reviewers’ yard, not covering an area such as an acre or two of produce production. Our program hopes to economically resolve wildlife intrusion harmlessly and chemical free.
It would be relatively easy to evaluate the success of this system. We will regularly inspect and document any evidence (or the lack of) of physical attack to plantings, tracks left by intruding wildlife, and sometimes even physical sightings. We would supplement this detection process through the use of several wildlife cameras positioned to record intrusion events. Our intent is to document evidence of this laser/sprinkler deterrent system in action. The success of this program and its potential use in the produce producing community will enhance profitability through an economical deterrent system, increase yields, and is ecologically sound.