Sponsored by: ArmaTrac

Andrew Diprose

Rootwave, Warwickshire

With increasing pressure from regulation and legislation, along with rising levels of natural resistance, Warwickshire-based company RootWave has developed an alternative method of killing weeds.

The RootWave method sees electricity applied to a weed via a probe, causing near instant destruction of plant cells, with electrical current running from leaf to root to effect a systemic kill.

At present, RootWave is available as a hand held device, but the company is in the final stages of scaling up the technology to allow it to be used on a large acreages.

However, this also brings with it many challenges, particularly as to how weeds are targeted. This has seen RootWave work with several partners which are already experts in their respective fields, particularly the use of cameras to spot weeds, and the use of robotics to tackle the weeds.

RootWave’s Andrew Diprose says; “We are experts in the ‘kill’ technology, so there was no point in us developing complimentary technology, such as cameras, when other specialist manufacturers have already done this. It made a lot more sense to work with them.”

The next step is to create an implement to tackle weeds within a controlled environment such as vegetable beds or row crops. In these instances, there are clear paths which the electrodes can follow to kill weeds, without too much fear of electrocuting the ‘wanted’ plants.

For cereal crops and grassland, things get a little trickier, as there is more chance of electrocuting the wrong plant. This is where spot cameras are required to target weeds.

In addition to weeding, the firm says the system could also be used as a desiccant in OSR and potato crops, for example.

RootWave says external studies have found the electrocution system comparable, on cost to a comparable herbicide application. It is also a sustainable technology as it is organic and does not use any water. And as there is no equipment pulled through the ground, it is ideal for no-till situations.