“Laser Scarecrow” sounds at first like a great idea for a Halloween costume, but the reality is a little less exciting. Nonetheless, we hope this homely, farm-built gadget will help us save more of our sweet corn for you—instead of losing up to half of it to marauding flocks of birds.

Crows get a lot of blame for wrecking the farmer’s corn, but we struggle with red-winged blackbirds, European starlings and Canada geese as well. These ravenous birds can damage up to 50 percent of a crop in just a few days, and they’re very persistent.

This season we’re taking part in a trial experiment of the laser scarecrow, a device being developed at the University of Rhode Island by researcher Rebecca Brown. She provided us with kits to build the latest version of her device—you can get step-by-step instructions for building the 2017 model here »»—and we’ve got two of them out in the fields now.

Fingers crossed for the laser scarecrow!