Blasted to Distraction
Recently an editorial appeared in the Surrey Leader, written by the editor of the paper, who is also a victim of propane cannons. The article raises many good points, and especially asks the question, "How did the Ministry of Agriculture ever let this ridiculous practice get started in the first place, and why do all levels of government allow it to continue"?
The editorial titled "Blasted to Distraction" follows:
Blasted to Distraction
By Andrew Holota
Boom! Boom! Boom! “Shades of Bosnia!” I exclaim as the third thunderous explosion rips the peace of an early Sunday morning.
Neighbours experimenting with homemade bombs?
Small civil war being fought in the local park?
No. Propane cannons.
Welcome to life near a “modern” blueberry farm.
On the list of patently bad applications of technology by the agriculture industry against Mother Nature, propane cannons may not rank up there with DDT, but they have to be top contenders.. How this obnoxious device ever came to be an accepted method of crop protection is quite beyond belief.
I mean, think of the process. Some farmer, somewhere, was watching a flock of birds chow down on his blueberries. Short of poisoning them, or shooting them two alternatives that no doubt have been employed at some stage in the evolution of agriculture it occurs to our genius that he could scare the birds with a loud noise ... all day ... every day.
You’d think municipal and provincial governments would order farmers back to the drawing board to develop, say, cheaper nets.
But no. It seems it never occurred to various levels of officialdom that turning entire valleys and plains into the audio version of a dawn-to-dusk artillery barrage was a lousy idea.
So, not surprisingly, it’s resulted in some conflict between farmers hell bent on keeping the birds out of their berries even if they have to go deaf to do it, and surrounding suburbanites who take umbrage with living in a simulated war zone.
Your standard issue propane cannon emits a blast measuring about 130 decibels, which is in the range of a jet aircraft taking off.
And it fires every few minutes, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The one in my corner of the flatlands goes off every five minutes or so, with a volley of three blasts. That’d be about 40 explosions per hour, for 12 hours, or more than 400 detonations per day.
Now, I grew up on a farm, and I appreciate there will always be some friction between suburban development and nearby farming operations. But I’ll take the funky bouquet of cow crap anytime over months of carpet bombing next door. And there isn’t much of an alternative to manure (although give science a chance). But there are existing, quiet alternatives to these infernal cannons, such as nets, windmills, balloons, and hawk-shaped kites.
Experts say noise pollution affects people’s health.
When I lived further east in the Valley, there was an old guy who rode around on a bicycle, wearing a hard hat. Every so often he’d whack himself upside the head and bark like a dog. People said he got shell-shocked by an artillery bombardment in World War II.
I think he may have spent all his years living next to a blueberry farm.
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