Grasslanz averting bird strike through means of indigestion

Palmerston North biotech company Grasslanz Technology was thrilled to scoop the award for most innovative product in agritech at the Hi-Tech awards on Friday night – all by making birds feel queasy.

The company has pioneered a grass that grows fungus that makes birds feel ill when they digest it and deters them from returning.

The innovation has been hugely beneficial for countering bird strike problems around airport runways, which kill birds, damage flight equipment and are potentially fatal for passengers.

Bird strike may seem like a small inconvenience to pilots, but the worldwide damage bill for air carriers is more than  $1.2 billion annually.

Grasslandz has endeavoured to reduce this amount and believes the invention can go global.

Chief executive John Caradus believes a strength of the invention is its environmentally and animal friendly approach – not to mention its effectiveness.

Christchurch International Airport has used Grasslanz’s Avanex seeds with great results.

Spokesman Andy Lester says the areas around the runway now attracts 14 times fewer birds than paddocks next door.

The firm now plans to expand the technology into the horticulture and recreational sectors where birds are causing problems.

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