Electrophysical Dock Control

Electrophysical Dock Control

Docks are a major problem in grassland systems. Infestation can reduce grass yields and utilisation and have only 65% of the feed value of grass. The use of herbicides to control docks can have a negative effect on clover in pasture and implications for the wider catchment ecosystem if used incorrectly. A reduction in the use of herbicides in grassland would be of benefit in terms of water and soil quality and preserving biodiversity.

Electrophysical destruction offers the potential benefits of controlling docks while reducing the need for herbicides. This project will be looking at the effectiveness and financial viability of using an electric weeding machine to control docks on two dairy farms near Raglan, South Wales. The machine uses high-energy electrons to apply an electric current through the leaves of the docks causing the death of all the tissues.

This project will be using a hand held electric weeder made by the company Rootwave. The hand-held lance is powered by a generator with a long (~20m) cable.  Each dock plant in a plot will be touched with the charged lance for 5 - 10 seconds before moving on to the next plant. The technology is scalable and other machines are also available, such as a larger tractor mounted, PTO driven machine.

A machine will be hired over a period of two years to trial control of docks by electrophysical destruction. The main challenge for the project is to compare the effectiveness and financial viability of electric weeding treatment against the use of herbicides in a high input dairy situation.