Kiwi grass reduces bird-strikes worldwide

  • 21/03/2013

New Zealand scientists are taking a new kind of grass to the global market, a grass which promises to reduce bird-strikes at airports and potentially save the aviation industry millions of dollars a year.

The grass has the potential to make airports safer by reducing the number of bird-strikes - like the one that downed the US Airways fight in the Hudson River in 2009.

Andy Baxter works with airports like Heathrow to try and combat bird-strike.

"All airports around the world will have bird deterrents, people out there 24 hours a day, the key to it is to try and stop birds being present in the first place," says Mr Baxter.

And that's where the grass - trade-named 'Jackel' - comes in.

It contains a naturally occurring fungus which produces a mild toxin, so when the birds eat it they're not harmed, but they quickly find out it doesn't taste good. 

It's not palatable for insects either, so there's no reason for the birds to be attracted to the grass in the first place.

It's been trialled in New Zealand airports since 2010, and bird numbers have reduced by 70 to 90 percent.

"That will have a big impact on the amount of effort required to deter birds from airports, and hopefully reduce that bird-strike risk that as we know is capable of bringing aircraft down," says Mr Baxter.

The global cost of bird-strikes is estimated at $1.5 billion a year.

The grass could also be used at sports stadiums, golf courses and even domestic lawns.

"This is very exciting for our business, it's a world-leading product and the results we're seeing so far are so sound," says business development manager of PGG Wrightsons Mark Shaw.

So like for the birds, the sky's the limit.

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source: newshub archive