More sustainable method of weed control undergoes testing in Switzerland

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A more sustainable method of weed control will soon be available to farmers looking to reduce their use of harmful plant protection products. The innovative technology, developed by German agtech start-up crop.zone, controls weeds with an electrical charge. It is being introduced, tested and further developed in Switzerland for the first time by Swiss cooperative fenaco, following the conclusion of a cooperation agreement.

The collaboration will see fenaco take responsibility for introducing the solution to the Swiss market, specifically adapting it to meet conditions on the ground, and ensuring appropriate scientific supervision. As a result, farmers interested in learning more will have the opportunity to try out the new technology under real conditions.

Innovative weed control method

The technology kills weeds with an electrical charge. The crop.zone process combines chemical and physical plant protection to create an effective way to kill weeds.

By pre-treating the plants with non-toxic substances which comply with organic farming guidelines, crop.zone claims plants are treated with a much higher degree of efficiency and lower energy use.

With an application width up to 12m and a speed of spread of 4km/h, the crop.zone solution can treat around three hectares an hour. The crops are pre-treated, in an initial step, with a safe conductive liquid. The weeds are then killed in a targeted way through an electrical charge. The company argues this results in lower energy consumption and the method is much more effective than other electrical technologies.

The method will be presented to the public for the first time at the opening of the new beneficial organisms production facility in Aesch (BL) in spring 2021. Meanwhile, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) is currently clarifying whether the procedure can be authorised for organic farming.

We are very happy about the collaboration with the leading agricultural farmers’ cooperative in Switzerland,” noted Dirk Vandenhirtz, CEO and founder of crop.zone. “It gives us excellent access to a large number of farms. For us, the opportunity to bring our technologies to Switzerland is strategically significant.

Dirk Vandenhirtz, founder and CEO of crop.zone GmbH Aachen Germany

Dirk Vandenhirtz, founder and CEO of crop.zone GmbH Aachen Germany

Michael Feitknecht, head of plant production and member of the Board of Management at fenaco, concluded: “The technology from crop.zone gives us a new tool and embodies our principle ‘Combination is the new innovation’. fenaco collaborates with startups which are developing innovative and sustainable technologies for agriculture. Switzerland is assuming a leading position worldwide by making farming more sustainable and is playing a crucial role in that.

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