RootWave, a UK agtech startup, has created technology that enables the use of electricity to kill weeds by boiling them inside out from the root up. The company says this offers a sustainable and scalable alternative to herbicides.
The International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, a global collaboration between weed scientists, has collected data that shows there’s a growing number of weeds that are resistant to herbicides and the problem is only getting more challenging.
Brazil’s suspension of the use of glyphosate this week also highlights the precarious future of chemical crop protection as regulators increasingly step in to assess the safety of these products.
“There is a significant opportunity for a scalable alternative to herbicides as weeds continue to evolve to be increasingly resistant to herbicides,” said Andrew Diprose, RootWave’s CEO. “In addition, regulators are increasingly banning their use.”
The company has raised $1m in seed funding from angel investors and the agri-tech accelerator The Yield Lab, as well as a $1.5 million grant from the European Union’s Horizons 2020 initiative.
RootWave, which founded in 2012, uses vision technology to see and zap the weeds in crops utilizing miniaturized technology and automation.
“We have the technology and relationships in place to launch a scalable chemical-free weed killer, a solution the world is in desperate need of given the issues of resistance and regulation,” said Diprose.
RootWave already has revenues from the sale of its hand-weeding product, the RootWave Pro, designed for growers, gardeners and groundskeepers to spot weed and treat invasive species. But it is planning to launch in the agriculture market next year by integrating its technology into automated weeders attached to tractors. It is conducting its first round of trials this year and will move into customer trials next year, according to Diprose.
Recent independent analysis revealed that the total cost of using RootWave will be comparable with that of using herbicides so while capital costs are higher, the running costs are lower, according to Diprose.
Earlier this year, RootWave announced that Eco Weed Control will be distributing its RootWave Pro in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Prior to this fund, the company raised $800k from Innovation UK, EIP-Agri, Innovation Networks and others.