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 looked at the effectiveness 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 used 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 was 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 was hired over a period of two years to trial control of docks by electrophysical destruction. 


Project Outcomes:

  • The electrical treatment of dock plants on three treatment timings was very effective in this project and the results can be seen as an equivalent to a herbicide application alone.
  • There is potential for the electrical control of docks to be a promising means of dock management in grassland, especially for organic farmers or those requiring lower herbicide inputs.
  • Electrophysical dock control also proved to have the potential to help retain clover in a sward if targeted treatments were applied.