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An Essex farm manager says he is saving valuable time and money by switching back to a simple gas cannon to keep birds off... Gas cannon is ‘most reliable’ bird scarer

An Essex farm manager says he is saving valuable time and money by switching back to a simple gas cannon to keep birds off crops.

Nigel Clayson farms at RS & WR Gosling – a 607ha arable unit at Takeley, near Stansted Airport. He concedes that all types of bird scarers have their respective fan bases. But he says ultimately it comes down to reliability, price and performance.

Choosing the right option from a long list that includes pole mounted kites, traditional replica hanging crows or even sophisticated – and often expensive – bio-acoustic sound dispersal systems can be a time-consuming process, adds Mr Clayson.

Weather conditions

“Wind powered bird scarers are great when it’s windy, but not so great when there’s no wind, so reliability and investing in a deterrent that can consistently do the job in all weather conditions has to be a major consideration,” he says.

Based on his experience, Mr Clayson favours the propane gas cannon as the best and most reliable solution – given they neither rely on wind nor visibility to provide reliable levels of protection against pigeons, crows and other pests

“I’ve tried many different gas cannon bird scarers over the years, but the one that stands out was the Vari-Scary MKII I purchased at the LAMMA event in 2019.”

It’s lightweight, with an integral handle for easy transportability, has a tough weather-proof polyethylene plastic body with water-proof seals to protect the battery compartment, and takes about 10 minutes to set up using a simple control panel to programme.

Settings are limited to between 5am and 9pm to avoid anti-social night noise disturbance, and with good positioning, one Vari-Scary gas cannon can cover a decent field size of 13-16ha, explains Mr Clayson.

“The key is positioning the bird scarer with the wind following in the same direction, allowing the gun fire sound to carry as far as possible to achieve maximum range.”

The Vari-Scary has electronic ignition which creates a multiple spark in the steel combustion chamber of the cannon’s barrel reducing any possibility of a misfire.

“This gives it a significant advantage over older gas cannons that often rely on a single spark from a spark plug. The older models are also far more susceptible to damp, making them vulnerable to multiple misfires.”

With normal daily use, the battery should last just over a month between charges – however, you can upgrade to a solar panel charger option that will trickle charge the internal battery, potentially doubling the battery life between charges.