The implementation of barrier strip cropping to mitigate bird damage on organic oilseed sunflowers

2015 Annual Report for FNE15-834

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2015: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:

The implementation of barrier strip cropping to mitigate bird damage on organic oilseed sunflowers


Bird damage to many types of agricultural crops is a major issue facing all farmers,ESPECIALLY organic sunflower farmers. Oil-seed sunflowers are primarily grown for fuel(biodiesel/SVO) and food, both human and for the birdiseed industry. Besides groundhog destruction early on, and weed pressure throughout the growing season with subsequent combine issues, bird damage is the final scourge that can make a profitable year vanish over a couple days to weeks. If there is to be bird feeding on your organic oil-seed sunflowers not only because it is expected but because effective organic deterrents are of limited availability commercially, one option being tested here is to provide a “channeled” feeding while at the same time disrupt and create an unease in  the bird’s feeding pattern.

This meants to make things as difficult and confusing as possible, less conducive to “buffet feeding”, and ultimately very energy demanding. Therefore, we planted high barrier strips of agriculturally useful crops to channel, decrease flock sizes, decrease visibility making  more vigilance(watching out for predators) with less feeding and ultimately making their bird depredation energy demanding, inefficient and confusing on oil-seed sunflower fields. In this study, barrier strips will be 8-9 foot tall organic corn and 7-8 foot tall organic sorghum-sudan grass that will tower over the sunflowers, but both will also be of use for on-farm benefit or for sale to outside markets.  This is our project.

Objectives/Performance Targets

In the Fall of 2015 we prepared all the experimental and control fields by taking soil samples for analyses  to implement the necessary soil amendments in the Spring AND by mowing field residue, plowing,disking and planting the sites with the pre-planned green manure mixture. We planted all sites by drilling 3 bushels per acre of cereal rye , 50 pounds per acre of Austrian winter peas and 8 pounds per acre of mammoth red clover.

Study will start in 2016.


Dr. Hans Kandel

[email protected]
Agronomist; Broadleaf crop production
NDSU Extension
Dept 7870
PO box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Office Phone: 7012317971