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.

View from the Chair: “There is real opportunity for RootWave”

Dr Andy Jones joined the RootWave board as Chairman in April, bringing with him over 35 years’ experience in agriculture, and the AgriChem industry. In this article he reflects on his first year, and the size of the opportunity for RootWave in an industry he knows so well.

I have a very high-level of confidence that RootWave will become one of the leading brands in weed control. One of the reasons for that is because the technology works brilliantly. I joined RootWave as chair of the board in spring 2022 – at that point I was really impressed with the level of technical validation already achieved.

Since then we have had the field trials in maize, sugar beet and orchards and I think everyone at RootWave and growers have been very excited by the results. I am certainly excited by what we can achieve.

I have been in crop protection virtually my whole career, and I know there is a need for the solution that RootWave is delivering. Food supply and demand in the world is finely balanced – just look at how the war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves in food prices. The job of chemicals in crop protection has been to help growers produce food for a growing and hungry population, and they have done it very well. 

But, as science and technology has advanced, we understand the impact some of the chemical products can have on the environment and on human health.  We need crop protection technologies with lower environmental impact and risks.  RootWave is exactly that – a safe and cost effective way to control weeds.

I have been impressed with the team RootWave has in place to take advantage of this opportunity.  There is a lot of energy and a lot of drive within the team, and also a lot of knowledge and expertise. The team here understand the technology and how it can be applied to various markets, whether that is fruit, row crops or other areas of agriculture.

I think farmers will look at what RootWave has to offer and say – “this is fantastic”! That might look different in different sectors, for example for those in the organic market, where they are currently relying on mechanical hoeing, which disturbs and damages the soil – I think growers will be very excited. But it doesn’t end there, we know more and more growers are operating in an environment where the use of chemicals is restricted. That could be for regulatory reasons, or due to preferences within their supply chain – what our trials have shown us is that eWeeding can work better, and with the right utilisation level can cost way less.

With the right partners and the drive and energy we have in the team we can demonstrate to the market that eWeeding works, and actually it can also cost farmers less in the long run.

I think it is an exciting time ahead, and one that can be very rewarding for our team, partners and investors.

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.

Team stories: This is the best team I’ve worked in – Mick Bennett

Mick Bennett is a quality and supply engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the automotive and white goods industries. He has worked within international supply chains and developed an expertise in working with suppliers in China.  In January 2020 he joined RootWave  – he says it was the best move he could have made.

This is the best team I have worked in – the level of knowledge and expertise we have here is astounding. The support I have received within our operations team has been great. We are a small team with a good variety of experience, and we also get on with each other very well – the morale is fantastic.

I think the leadership team has done a great job on recruitment, because not only have we got the skills we need, but also everyone has the right attitude. In my role I come into contact with most people and everyone here is so nice. They approach each day with positivity and a can-do mindset.

I am proud of the work that my team and I have done since I have been here, it’s probably the best of my career. I joined shortly before the pandemic and lockdowns – many of the companies in the industries I came from were putting people on furlough or making people redundant, but we managed to keep the business going in a safe way.

There was a real challenge within supply chains, it was hard to source parts because some suppliers were shut – but we always found a way. Because of the nature of what we do, we have to have things ready for the spring, when weeds are growing and we were successful in doing that – its something I take a lot of pride from.

Our Volta machine for top fruit is a very exciting project. It has been a great challenge for me working with new suppliers to find bespoke and off-the-shelf parts for our high frequency technology. This season we will be working with contract manufacturers to bring the product to market, which is another good challenge. It’s one we have been successful with for RootWave Pro. Getting the detail right and building a relationship with the supplier is key and I am looking forward to it.

I love working here, the variety within my working week is great. One minute I’m ordering carboard boxes, the next it’s bespoke parts for a high frequency electronics system. When you add that to the exciting products and the supportive team – it means I don’t mind putting extra hours in during the times it is needed. I believe in this company, they have believed in, and supported me – it motivates me to go above and beyond, because I enjoy my work.”


To view our current vacancies visit our careers page

RootWave win award at SALTEX 2022!

Visitors to SALTEX at the NEC on 2-3 November 2022 showed a lot of interest in electrical weed control at the RootWave stand (G041).

Several of the contractors, land managers and gardeners reported that they were looking for alternatives to chemical herbicides due either to external pressure or a desire to provide a more sustainable service.

Interest in RootWave was high, due to the fact that high voltage electricity treats the roots as well as above ground. And RootWave even won an award for their stand at the show – “Best stand (under 30m2) – for excellence in stand design and customer experience”.

Head of Global Sales, Stephen Jelley said:

“It was very encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm for RootWave Pro at the largest trade event for land and amenity management in the UK.

“the conversations we had with professionals from the industry, made it clear that people are looking for a safe and effective alternative to herbicides – and that is exactly what RootWave Pro provides.”

SALTEX is an exhibition operated by the Grounds Management Association (GMA), the not-for-profit membership organisation representing the grounds care industry. Now in its 76th year, SALTEX is Europe’s largest sports turf, amenities, and landscaping trade exhibition attracting over 10,000 visitors.

Judges who presented RootWave with their award for best stand under 30m2 said they were impressed with the exciting product, the bright and clear design of the stand and the open and engaging nature of the RootWave team.

RootWave Pro was launched in 2017 and there are over 150 machines in operation across Europe. Those interested in a demonstration within the UK should contact Stephen Jelley on

RootWave officially a good place to work

Best Companies has rated RootWave as the 13th best company to work for in UK construction and engineering.

The Warwickshire-based electrical weed control pioneers released their award-winning hand-weeder RootWave Pro in 2017. Following a period of growth, tractor-mounted systems for chemical-free weed control in fruit and row crops produced excellent results in independent trials this summer.

RootWave has a diverse and growing team. It has also improved its rating with Best Companies this year – moving into the top 100 companies to work for in the West Midlands.

Laura Wrench, Head of People said:

“We are building a team that has the tenacity to solve global challenges. We have an incredibly talented and diverse workforce that is passionate about what we do and what we deliver.

“We believe that we can change the world, and to do that we will need to create an environment and culture that inspires. That is why we benchmark ourselves with Best Companies each year and strive to improve our ranking.”

Best Companies is an independent employee engagement accreditation service that uses an annual staff survey to provide an employee led ranking for UK businesses. In 2022, they found that a majority of RootWave team members felt cared for, that they had the chance to grow and enjoyed their job – contributing to an overall rating of “Good to work for” and “One to watch”.

RootWave is continuing to grow its team, see the latest vacancies here, or visit our LinkedIn Life page to learn more.

Team stories: Working in a supportive environment – Chisom Akujobi

Chisom Akujobi is a Power Electronics Engineer. Originally from Nigeria, she completed her MSc in Electrical Power Engineering at Newcastle University. After building over five years’ experience within the UK power electronics industry she joined RootWave in November 2021.

“I am proud to work for RootWave. Recently, I started working towards becoming a Chartered Engineer with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). I have won the first round of the IET “Present in 10” competition under the sustainability and climate change category, which was an opportunity to champion my work with RootWave to other engineers. I was proud to talk about electrical weed control as a sustainable solution.

Sustainability and the chance to make a difference to the world was one of the things that first attracted me to the role here. I was also very interested in working with high frequency electricity. The fact that it is a spectrum of electricity that can be used to build safer products is appealing. I felt it would be good for my career development to work in that field.

Even from before my first day of work for RootWave I noticed there was a sense of family here. I was returning to work after maternity leave, and I was given good advice and great support on how best to get back into things.

Now, I am supported with a hybrid structure and a really collaborative working environment. We are building new products, so I love coming into the office to meet with project teams and catch-up on the progress others are making – but I can split that with some time working from home. This is helpful if I need to pick up my son from nursery, or simply need quiet time to focus on my work.

I feel comfortable at RootWave, there is a great collaborative atmosphere, so I can always do my best work. I think the multicultural nature of our team really helps with that. We have a wide range of personalities within the business, and we gel very well together. Everyone brings different ideas to the table and we collaborate to get the best solutions.

Of course with the nature of what we are building, we are working to deadlines. New prototype products will need to be in the field at certain times of the year – but I never feel like I am being put under pressure, everyone works together because we all want to achieve the same goal. I feel comfortable that I am being trusted to deliver, and trusted to manage my own time. I will come into the office when I need to work with others on something, but I can also get things done at home.

I have had fantastic encouragement from my manager, particularly with working towards becoming a chartered engineer. He was keen to put me forward, and he has been flexible with my tasks, so that I can use and develop different skill sets. Ultimately this will benefit the business too, as I am growing as an engineer and will bring more to the table. Another element of working for RootWave that has helped me grow is being part of the full cycle of product development. I can be working with other teams, discussing how a power board that I am designing will fit into the finished product – then later I will be involved in testing, collecting and analysing data. This is a chance to gain feedback on my work in real time, and I can take that back into my designs. It is really exciting and really satisfying.”


To view our current vacancies visit our careers page

Construction begins on RootWave’s new centre for electrical weed control innovation

This story is taken from our newsletter The Volt. To read a magazine version of this and other stories, click here.

RootWave’s new headquarters at ‘The Arena’, Kineton, UK will provide state of the art facilities to underpin the continued growth of the Warwickshire based electrical weed control pioneers.

A test version of RootWave’s tractor mounted ‘Volta’ machine has been operating in maize, sugar beet and apple crops this summer. The company’s new HQ will have research and development facilities on site to match the company’s world leading position in chemical free weed control.

The facility will be the global centre for electrical weed control innovation, including laboratories, workshops and office space for over 100 team members. This will allow the company to continue the revolutionary work in developing an effective and safe alternative to chemical herbicides, which started with the launch of award-winning hand-held weeder RootWave Pro in 2017.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Diprose said: “The scale of what we can achieve in agriculture is enormous, and I am delighted that our facilities will include space for visitors to see our products in action. The initial results from tests this summer are hugely exciting – a visit to RootWave will be a chance to see the most effective and safest electrical weed control available.”

Head of People Laura Wrench said: “This is such an exciting step for us, not only because it shows how far we have come, but also how much lies ahead. Our new home will provide top-level facilities for our world-leading team and will be the staging post for a revolution in weed control.”

RootWave hope to be welcoming visitors to the site early in 2023.