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NZ Lifestyle Block - - Notebook -­

Not us­ing her­bi­cides is the holy grail of chem­i­cal-free farm­ing and there’s a new option for NZ farm­ers and grow­ers.

The Root­wave Pro elec­trother­mal weeder is now avail­able to hire from NZ com­pany Hot­grass and is be­ing com­mer­cially released world­wide this year. It uses a high volt­age, low amp shot of elec­tric­ity ap­plied through a wand to rapidly heat a plant, boil­ing any wa­ter in the tis­sues from the leaves to the bot­tom of the roots.

A plant al­most im­me­di­ately goes limp and changes colour, dying within a cou­ple of days. Test­ing has shown its ef­fects reach­ing 23cm down to the end of Cal­i­for­nia this­tle roots. In the UK its cre­ators have suc­cess­fully tack­led one of the ‘ worst case sce­nario’ pest plants, Ja­pa­nese knotweed (known in NZ as Asi­atic knotweed).

It works on grasses like kikuyu (us­ing a t-bar in­stead of a wand to treat wider ar­eas) and on some of the hard­est weeds to kill in­clud­ing aga­pan­thus, wan­der­ing jew, wild gin­ger, gorse, wild­ing pines and wil­low.

Hot­grass has also tested its ef­fect on stumps where large woolly nightshade trees have been cut down. Zap­ping the cut stump stopped re­growth.

Cur­rent elec­tric­ity-based prod­ucts only kill the tops of plants, and steam types only pen­e­trate to 1cm of soil depth.

The Root­wave Pro is only for lease at the mo­ment for a min­i­mum 3-month hire. There are plans for it to be dis­trib­uted world­wide.

This weeder uses a high volt­age, low amp blast from a wand to kill plants it touches

Kazel Cass of Hot­grass demon­strates the ma­chine on weeds grow­ing among grape seedlings at River­sun Nurs­eries in Gis­borne.

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