Microwave weeder ready for commercialisation

Commercial future awaits futuristic micro-wave weed buster

Agribusiness
Dr Graham Brodie from the University of Melbourne with a prototype of his Growave x-ray weeder.

Dr Graham Brodie from the University of Melbourne with a prototype of his Growave x-ray weeder.

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Critical funding for University of Melbourne project Growave may see it ready for general paddock use in 18 months.

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Promising development work on a micro-wave powered weeder has attracted significant seed money that could see it ready for commercial production in 18 months.

Invented by researchers at the University of Melbourne, the Growave technology harnesses the power of microwaves to kill weeds from the inside and rids soil of emergent weeds, dormant seeds as well as reduces pathogens and their impact.

Field-ready units that bolt on to any farm implement promise an alternative to herbicides in broad acre farming while, in the case of horticulture, can eliminate the use of damaging Methyl bromide, as with strawberry runner production, for less cost to the pocket and the environment.

The machine works like an ordinary home micro-wave oven, and destroys microbes in the first 50mm of the soil. There is a pending scientific publication which suggests more bad bugs than good bugs are zapped.

"With the economics of the solution so compelling, the technology has the potential to have an impact on a broad range of agricultural markets including horticulture, broad acre and viticulture," said key investor Paul Barrett, Growave Director and head of physical sciences at IP Group.

The seed investment came from IP Group, Grain Innovate and Artesian and will be used to take the novel, chemical-free weed treatment to a global market.

"This represents the fifth investment by IP Group in ANZ with its partnership agreement with the Group of Eight and University of Auckland, said Mr Barrett.

"While there is strong international interest in the technology, Growave will firstly focus on domestic markets with new trials commencing on farmland at Dookie in Victoria and in Southern Queensland in the Lockyer Valley on an organic vegetable farm."

"It is anticipated in 18 months the Growave technology will be ready for commercial deployment."

"Herbicide resistance is a growing problem worldwide so people are looking for alternative ways to manage weeds."

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.

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