Defra Minister visits RootWave as £50k grower grant announced

RootWave’s game changing eWeeder for orchards and vineyards has been included in Defra’s Farming Equipment and Technology Fund 2024. The company also anticipates that growers will be able to claim further funding from the Combined Environment Land Management Offer.

The pioneering tractor-powered machine that delivers full control of weeds using electricity was one of the top scoring items for productivity and environmental benefit on the list. As a result, growers can claim the maximum grant allowance of £50,000 – more than half the machine’s list price.

CEO Andrew Diprose says the grant means that growers with 25 hectares of orchards and vineyards could save money versus their existing sprayer and herbicide programme.

“The running costs for a RootWave eWeeder are tiny in comparison to herbicides. Before this grant was announced we knew medium and large growers could save money by switching to eWeeding, now smaller growers can too.”

Farming Minister Mark Spencer visited RootWave in February to see the Warwickshire based company’s eWeeder in action.

The Defra Minister was impressed, commenting: “Keeping control of weeds is a crucial task all farmers face. RootWave is one of the most innovative companies in the country and Defra has supported the development of their innovative and eco-friendly electric weeder.”

Growers may also be able to access further funding, an annual payment of £101 per hectare of land where eWeeding is used rather than herbicides, under the Combined Environment Land Management Offer. eWeeding is the only non-chemical solution that kills both weeds and their roots without disturbing the soil.

Andrew Diprose said: “eWeeding is the only weed control option that can outcompete herbicides on efficacy and cost. Growers can also access all the benefits of chemical-free weed control and for those in environmentally sensitive areas this can include further grant funding from other organisations such as water boards.”

Growers can find guidance for claiming the Defra grant here.

More information about the eWeeder for Fruit

RootWave eWeeder treating in a vineyard during winter

Weeding in a winter wonderland

When you know that it is heat that kills the weeds during eWeeding, it was fascinating to see how effective the revolutionary technology would be in sub-zero conditions!

The mercury was showing at 5 degrees below zero when our team set off from our HQ and as we began treatment in a large Kent vineyard the temperature was still -1 degrees C.

eWeeding is so effective because as the electricity travels through the weed and its root, the natural resistance means that the weed and root heat up rapidly – like the filament of an old fashioned lightbulb. This causes the cells within the weed to breakdown and the water in the weed to boil, which is why  steam is seen escaping from lush weeds during treatment. This means eWeeding is extremely effective in spring and summer when weeds are actively growing.

But how effective would it be in these extreme conditions? Would the weeds get hot enough to cause the cell breakdown that brings up to 100% weed control in trials?

The answer was yes, two weeks later you could see a clear visible effect from eWeeding. This is a strong endorsement of just how effective eWeeding is at controlling weeds in all conditions.

Glyphosate delays divert time and resources away from where they are needed – innovation

The money and time spent by governments on committees and stewardship schemes would be better used on helping the industry transition to viable alternatives like electrical weed control. It is time for the industry to start looking forward, not backwards.

By Andrew Diprose, CEO – RootWave

It is difficult to find out exactly how much money, time and resources are spent on debating, regulating, monitoring and reviewing chemical use. Certainly, civil servants and politicians spend many hours at briefings, meetings and committees discussing the future of chemical products. Often, as was the case with glyphosate last month, without reaching a conclusion.

This is driven by the fact that chemical herbicides are by their nature, toxic – that’s how they work. Farmer’s use them because when the post-war population boom demanded a rapid increase in food production, chemicals provided a cheap means of meeting market needs.

Now, regulatory costs, legal costs and the technological costs associated with chasing ‘safer’ chemistry means the days of free-flowing cheap chemical herbicides are, rightfully, behind us.

Meanwhile, Government bodies spend millions of pounds on research programmes, some of which test the efficacy of one chemical as a potential replacement for another. A wasteful act of kicking the can down the road, as new chemical products carry the same long-term risks: safety, resistance, regulation.

To make matters worse for farmers many such studies are funded via levies, so in affect it is farmers paying to test chemical products that will later be sold to them at a premium.

Whatever the total cost of these activities, isn’t it time someone stopped and thought… are we wasting a whole heap of cash flogging, if not a dead horse, then an increasingly old and sick one?

Herbicides are hugely damaging. They hide behind a benign looking liquid in a bottle that is relatively easy to spray, but the manufacturing process to get there is an industrial, environmentally damaging and carbon intensive process. The toxicity of the residues is not immediately clear, and it can require significant effort to link health and environment issues to the use of herbicides.

Time to start rowing with the wind

It is clear which way the wind is blowing, the more we understand about chemicals, the less disposed we are to want to use them to produce our food.

Are we ready to ban them all together? Of course not. Can we do more to reduce our reliance on them and improve safety? Well, yes.

Why not take some of the time, money and resource that we spend on regulation and start spending it on innovation? Wouldn’t we be better using the public’s tax money, and farmer’s levy funds on quickening our arrival at the future, rather than prolonging the past?

What makes innovation and scaling alternatives difficult is that herbicides have historically been considered to be cheap. But there has been a hidden cost to our health and the environment that has not been amortised yet and will be left for later generations to pay.

As Einstein once said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. The era of controlling weeds with chemistry is nearing its end. We can replace chemistry with physics in many cases. Electrical weed control is the most effective example of that.

The new RootWave eWeeder for fruit is effective, affordable and safe. It is on the market now; we know how well it works and we know that lots of farmers are very keen to use it within their orchards and vineyards.

It would be wrong to let the industry control the upcoming narrative that herbicides are the only competitive regenerative weed control technology, it is simply not true. eWeeding is lower cost, is an order of magnitude more energy efficient, and has no residues to risk our soils, biodiversity, and health.

Supporting the rollout of eWeeding into British and European horticulture would do far more to restrict the use of harmful chemicals in the sector, than bureaucratic processes and regulation will do – because it works, its affordable and farmers can reap additional benefits like wider treatment windows. Chemical herbicides such as glyphosate won’t be used, because they won’t be wanted.

Strong grower interest as weeds zapped at demo events

During August we demonstrated our new eWeeder for fruit at four commercial orchards and vineyards in Kent and Herefordshire. There was a lot of interest from growers and agronomists with over 100 booked to attend the events.

Growers were able to see the machine treating weeds within tree and vine rows, before interacting with experts from RootWave. They were very interested in the benefits of eWeeding, like the wider treatment windows and the fact that electricity kills the weed and its roots without disturbing the soil.

The eWeeder delivered great results in a commercial setting, as our technology has done in independent trials, where efficacy has been better than herbicides. The picture below is 9 days after treatment at an orchard in Ross-on-Wye. While one of our hosts in Kent contacted us two days after treatment with a video of him inspecting the vines. He said: “All the weeds have died and browned off, even the weed types that are tough to kill. The comparison with the untreated areas is like chalk and cheese. What a great machine!”

Ross-on-Wye orchard 9 days post treatment

What growers said:

The events concluded with a Q&A session and discussion with growers. These proved to be useful as growers learned about the capabilities of the machine, and the cost benefits of switching to eWeeding. They were also able to suggest features that would be useful to them in their orchard or vineyard.

Here is some of their feedback:

  • “The RootWave eWeeder means we will only need 1 tractor instead of 2 dedicated to weeding and reduce our workforce by 1 FTE, the cost benefits will be significant” Large organic orchard grower.
  • “The operating window and hectares covered in a season is game changing for us” Large top fruit & arable farmer.
  • “It makes total sense” Large orchard Grower
  • “I love the fact that eWeeding won’t damage my soil, where have you guys been!” Large vineyard

Order now for 2024 delivery

The reservation list for 2024 delivery is almost full, but there is still a chance to secure a machine for next year. Growers can request a demonstration of the machine at their orchard or vineyard this autumn via the form below

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    RootWave showcases new machine at demo events

    RootWave has held a series of successful demonstration events for its first tractor-powered eWeeding machine for orchards, vineyards and fruit.

    The RootWave machine treats weeds in the rows of vines, orchards and bushes using treatment electrodes on purpose-designed hydraulic arms allowing the machine to work seamlessly between different crops and row widths. The treatment uses higher-frequency waveform electricity, which creates heat energy within the weed and roots boiling them from the inside out.

    Growers and industry stakeholders attended a series of demonstration events in Kent and Herefordshire to see first-hand the machine working in commercial crops. RootWave CEO Andrew Diprose said: “It has been wonderful to meet so many growers and understand their weed control challenges, it is clear the new RootWave eWeeder will be an important tool in the management of weeds in fruit crops. The benefits of eWeeding are many and without the use restrictions typically associated with herbicides our machine will provide growers with unmatched flexibility in application timing and exceptional weed control throughout the year!’’

    “Our technology is certified organic and it helps nature to restore its soils and water, we are certain eWeeding will become the indispensable tool for farmers that want effective weed control, but without the negative effects to the environment”.

    Lower energy use

    In the company’s own tests eWeeding provided full control of weeds at a lower total energy use than chemical herbicides.

    Mr Diprose said: “RootWave delivers the most effective, economical, environmentally friendly and safe weed control on the market. It works so well because the plant and roots are killed by heat generated within the weed itself and the number of applications needed in a season is comparable to that of herbicides and less than required for mechanical weeding”.

    “We are the only eWeeding provider using high-frequency electricity, which is known to be intrinsically safer than standard 50Hz or DC wave forms.”

    The company plan to deliver the first machines to UK customers starting Q1, 2024, and anyone wanting to adopt eWeeding in 2024 are encouraged to reserve a machine now.

    Mr Diprose added: “it is clear growers want a better solution for managing weeds and as a result they have been eager to reserve a machine, we only have a handful still available for delivery in 2024”.

    See more about our tractor-powered eWeeder here.

    RootWave announce dates of eWeeding demonstration days

    RootWave’s new tractor-powered eWeeder will be in action at a series of special events for growers and agronomists during the summer.

    The events will be held in commercial orchards and vineyards in Kent and Herefordshire in August. They will present a chance for growers and agronomists to see the eWeeder in action, and see trial plots previously treated with RootWave’s tractor-powered eWeeder. The dates are and locations are:

    • 1st August – Orchard, Gravesend, Kent – 4pm – 6.30pm
    • 2nd August – Vineyard, Maidstone, Kent – 4pm – 6.30pm
    • 9th August – Orchard, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire – 4pm – 6.30pm
    • 16th August – Orchard & vineyard, Faversham, Kent – 3pm – 5.30pm

    Places are limited and by invitation-only. To request an invitation to one of the events, please fill out the form below.

    Please use the link above if possible, if not you can fill in the form below and email to:

    UK Electrical weed control firm RootWave to open crowdfunding 

    Warwickshire based electrical weed control (eWeeding) pioneer RootWave is set to launch its first eWeeder within agriculture via private investment complemented by crowdfunding. 

    The company’s first tractor-powered machine for orchards and vineyards will be launched next year, with half the machines planned for production already reserved.

    eWeeding kills weed and root, providing the systemic control that, prior to now, only herbicides could provide. The company reported that in trials last year – RootWave outperformed herbicides in every scenario, whilst using less energy. 

    CEO Andrew Diprose said: “RootWave’s electrical weed control products will prevent the use of 30,000,000,000 litres of herbicide by 2035, as well as 1,500,000 tonnes of plastic, 22,000,000 GJ of energy and allow farmers to sequester 20,000,000 tonnes of carbon. 

    “And the really exciting part for farmers, is how well it works. eWeeding is the only non-chemical method that kills weed and root without disturbing the soil. Furthermore, with far lower energy use than chemical herbicide programmes, when utilised at scale RootWave will be a more cost-effective option too.” 

    Products in multiple markets

    The company has already launched the award winning handheld eWeeder RootWave Pro and the product has generated over £2m in revenue to date. The company says that Q2 2023 is set to be a record sales quarter for the product. 

    Following the launch of the eWeeder for orchards and vineyards which uses the company’s patented higher frequency waveform technology, RootWave has its sights firmly set on arable row-crops, a $68bn market in Europe and North America alone.  

    Mr. Diprose added: “Trial data in row-crops was exceptional, outperforming herbicides in every metric. RootWave provides an exciting option for those who want to see our food produced with fewer chemical inputs, and for farmers who want systemic control of weeds with expanded treatment windows and without worrying about the regulatory or resistance issues associated with chemical herbicides. 

    “By opening crowdfunding, both these groups can help accelerate our growth, while taking a stake in our future success – it is an exciting proposition.”  Crowdfunding is set to open in July, with early access available for interested parties via Crowdcube and more information here.

    Better weed control arrives for orchards, vineyards and fruit

    Independent trials of our tractor-powered eWeeder in orchards, show that RootWave delivers full control of weeds.

    EU to further increase pesticide reduction targets, but it could be the weeds that are in for a shock

    The European Union has set a goal to reduce the use and risk of hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030. However, a leaked draft report from the European Parliament shows that the Member leading the revision of the EU’s pesticide framework is pushing for more ambition, advocating for an 80% reduction in the use of more hazardous plant protection products by 2030. This goal is in line with the demands of the citizens’ initiative, ‘Save bees and farmers’, which called for a general reduction of synthetic plant protection products by 80%.

    In recent years farmers have had worries about their ‘toolbox shrinking’, but fortunately, there is a solution that can help farmers meet this target: electric weed control (eWeeding).

    eWeeding kills all weeds, delivering full control in independent trials. Moreover, electricity treats deep into the roots, and does not disturb the soil or seed bed, helping to reduce new weed growth, and create healthy soils to capture carbon.

    Furthermore, while weeds might develop resistance to chemical herbicides, this is not the case with eWeeding.

    This method is not only effective, but also safe for earthworms and other soil macrofauna, and can be used near water courses and in environmentally sensitive areas.

    In addition, eWeeding can be lower cost than using chemical herbicides on a per hectare, per season basis.

    RootWave will release its first tractor-powered eWeeding machine in 2024 for use in orchards and vineyards, with products for arable row crops expected from 2026.

    If the EU are to take bold steps towards protecting ecosystems by increasing their pesticide reduction goals – in the case of weed control at least, farmers may actually be heading for a better future than they imagined.

    In numbers – the squeeze on herbicides:

    • In the EU, chemical herbicides that account for 82% of the herbicide value in  fruit crops are being revoked or are at significant risk of being revoked. (33% for cereal crops, 87% for broad-acre row-crops, 94% for vegetables, and 98% in municipalities).
    • There is herbicide resistance with 68% of the current modes of action. No new herbicide mode of action has been discovered in the past 20 years.
    • In fruit crops, glyphosate accounts for 76% of the herbicides used.  88% of academic studies since 2016 conclude glyphosate is carcinogenic.  In the EU, its license was extended by one year until end-2023 whilst the authorities reassess its safety.  Glyphosate was recently withdrawn for US Consumers due to safety concerns and litigation costs.  There are currently 533 legal cases against herbicide manufacturers relating to safety.
    • EU Green Deal looking to halve the use of pesticides, including herbicides, by 2030 and COP15 committed to halving the risk from pesticides by 2030.
    • There is a 11% CAGR in organic retail sales and 8% in organic farmland with EU committed to increasing organic farmland to 25% by 2030.

    For more information on RootWave eWeeders, click here.

    RootWave and IPM

    RootWave can help nature restore soils, water and biodiversity by reducing the amount of chemicals in a farming system, and for fruit growers there are further benefits. Non-chemical practices such as mechanical weeding can negatively impact beneficials like earwigs (Dermaptera), a natural predator of pests such as codling moth (Cydia pomonella) and apple sawfly (Hoplocampa testudinea), major pests that can damage fruit crops. eWeeding doesn’t disturb the soil therefore leaving beneficials such as earwigs to do what they do best.

    A RootWave eWeeder provides flexibility to orchard managers, as its excellent efficacy and the fact that it can be used in a wide range of conditions mean that treatment can be made at optimal times. This helps growers reduce pesticide use, showing RootWave can form a key part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) farming system.