Microwave weeder will soon go commercial

Microwave weeder about to go commercial


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ZAPPER: Inventor Dr Graham Brodie with the Growave technology that kills weeds and soil-borne seeds with microwaves.

ZAPPER: Inventor Dr Graham Brodie with the Growave technology that kills weeds and soil-borne seeds with microwaves.

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After years of research, weed-killing microwave technology is on the path to commercialisation, set for release in about 18 months from Growave.

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After years of research, weed-killing microwave technology is on the path to commercialisation.

The University of Melbourne's Dr Graham Brodie invented a tool that kills weeds and seeds buried in the soil.

Microwaves make water molecules within the weed vibrate and heat up, rupturing plant cell walls and killing the weed without the need to use expensive or potentially harmful chemicals.

"The modular design of the technology means Growave can be integrated into existing farming operations, not only reducing or eliminating the need for herbicides, but also saving labour associated with weed management," Dr Brodie said.

"It can be mounted onto a tractor or trailer and used in wet or windy weather, unlike herbicides and soil fumigation."

GRDC invested significantly in the initial research that enabled the development of Dr Brodie's device and further invested in the deployment of the technology by investing in Growave via the GrainInnovate fund.

The technology will be commercialised by Growave and director Paul Barrett said progress towards availability was advanced.

"Glass house and field trials at The University of Melbourne's Dookie campus have validated the efficacy - that it kills weeds - and started to validate economics of how much power per hectare it would use," Mr Barratt said.

Trials were now taking place on a strawberry farm, an organic horticultural farm and viticulture property.

"In about 18 months we'll have data from those field trials, which is probably the point for commercial launch," Mr Barrett said.

"It will be designed to be integrated into existing agricultural equipment but we haven't really worked through manufacturability or the end user costs yet."

While broadacre applications presented more of a challenge for the non-selective technology, Growave was likely to partner with a provider of vision systems to identify weeds.

"There's lots of other applications - riverbanks, herbicide-resistant weeds, councils have reached out to us for curbside weeding - so I think a whole bunch more will emerge."

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