Bird damage to sunflower: international situation and prospects☆

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Bird damage to sunflower: international situation and prospects☆

  • Sausse, Christophe
  • Lévy, Myriam
Published Article
EDP Sciences
Publication Date
Jun 04, 2021
DOI: 10.1051/ocl/2021020
EDP Sciences
  • Review
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Bird damage to sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) degrades the profitability of this crop and calls into question its place in rotations. Our international literature review shows that sunflower is one of the crops most vulnerable to bird attacks. However, these predatory pests are not specialized: if the sunflower is affected in one region, then the other crops sharing the same cycle could also be affected to varying degrees. All production areas are affected by flowerhead damage at maturity. Damage at emergence has recently become more visible in France, Italy and Switzerland, probably as a result of global changes and evolving farming practices. Birds are highly mobile pests with complex behaviour. The problem needs to be tackled in a hierarchical framework that takes into account field, landscape, and regional scales, along with processes at different timescales from rapid field selection to long term demographic trends. Moreover, the distribution of damage is asymmetrical: few fields are affected, but with a high severity. At this time, there is no single effective method for preventing damage, and coordination at the landscape scale should be initiated to find potential solutions. Finally, there is a gap between theoretical and applied knowledge, even though initiatives in North America have helped to move research forward. These difficulties imply an integrated approach combining partially effective methods, the association of several stakeholders, and the coordination of several policies (agricultural, environmental, and recreational hunting or wildlife management). Additionally, data collection appears essential to acquire knowledge about economic damage and efficacy of control programmes. Digital technology can be useful for such purposes. Finally, this review advocates international networking to consolidate a research community on this topic and on the wider issue of bird damage to crops.

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