Electric weed control on display in the Bay of Plenty

(Published on 12th December 2017)

Organic weed control had an electric impact on curious locals at a recent event in Maketu, Bay of Plenty, as they watched difficult weeds being sizzled by the steaming probe of the RootWave Pro electrothermal weeder.

The effect is almost immediate,” notes Janie Stevenson, Bay of Plenty Regional Coordinator at NZ Landcare Trust. “The plants go limp and brown, and after two days they are black and dead.

“It has a particularly deadly effect on plants such as wild ginger, Tradescantia and kikuyu, and will kill gorse and willow when the machine ringbarks the trunk.”

Stevenson organized the demonstration for farmers, council staff and Landcare group members to share new technology that could make significant advances in weed control in the near future.

Under organic certification, electricides are currently the only approved systemic weed control method. They can kill weeds to the tips of their roots, unlike other thermal systems such as steam, which only penetrate 1 cm of soil. This makes the RootWave Pro suitable for controlling invasive and other difficult-to-eradicate weeds.

The RootWave Pro prototype model demonstrated at the Maketu event has been tested in other areas of New Zealand with excellent results, and completely cleared a large area of weeds leaving no chemical residue.

The weeds are hit with 3000 – 5000 volts of electricity from a generator, battery or mains, using a fraction of the fuel that other thermal weed control methods require. The weeder is easily transportable.

The RootWave Pro electrothermal weeder that was demonstrated is one of only three prototypes in the world. It is due for commercial release in 2018. Hot Grass Ltd, its Australasian distributor, will lease the devices to weed management service providers and provide all necessary training and support. 

Backpack and tractor versions are currently being developed.

 

 

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