The success of a recent UK auction of 1960s tractors should be a prompt to see what’s lurking in the gloom of your old machinery shed.
As we enter a period of tight finances it will be prudent to ensure that plant and machinery is kept in good order to make sure it doesn't happen to you.
A key culprit is the starling, known to build nests in the dark recesses under a tractor hood or in the nooks behind the work-lights up on the cab roof, providing a ready fuel source easily ignited by hot exhaust pipes or shorting electrical cables.
Addressing this problem, Shoof International, Cambridge, markets Wingo, for applying to areas of tractors or machinery that are favoured by birds as roosting points. The formula contains a vegetable based gel oil with pepper and cinnamon; the birds don't like the feel of the gel on their claws, the astringency of the pepper triggers an alert reaction, and the scent of the cinnamon serves as a reminder, deterring the birds for up to two years.
The gel is supplied in a standard caulking gun cartridge for applying to favourite spots such as mirror stalks, work lights, hydraulic hoses and along the crest of the tractor's hood.
The product maker, farmer Tony Overbeek, applies it as necessary, taking extra care to replenish areas that have been cleaned off, for maximum efficacy.
The product has the added advantage of reducing bird droppings that pose a health risk to people and animals and that have a fierce paint stripping action on a vehicles' tin-work.
The scale of the problem caused by nesting birds is cited by rural insurance specialist FMG, which has had at least 170 claims relating to tractor fires in four years. The firm's current 'Stop and Pop' campaign encourages customers to look under tractor hoods.