As concern mounts over the amount of pesticides we use, one company is pursuing a promising alternative to harmful herbicides. Global Neighbor has developed NatureZap, a device said to kill weeds with heat and light. Now the U.S. Air Force is testing out the device.
NatureZap is an innovative wand-like device that shoots out a beam of heat and blue light to kill weeds. According to Global Neighbor president Jon Jackson, the device gets“about a 70 to 80 percent die-back without regrowth.” The device won’t hurt wildlife or people, and runs on batteries. Global Neighbor says the device will run for a little over a half hour before it needs to be recharged, and that weeds zapped with NatureZap die as soon as three days later.
As part of the Sikes Act, the military must reduce pesticide use. 412th Civil Engineering Group scientist Danny Reinke, who works at Edwards Air Force Base in California, worked on NatureZap with Global Neighbor. Reinke said NatureZap could assist the military as they work to meet Sikes Act requirements.
Central State University scientist Cadance Lowell has also run independent tests on NatureZap. She presented research at the annual meeting of the Weed Science Society of America back in February, and said NatureZap works as well as glyphosate (used infamously by Monsanto) on ragweed. Plants with deeper roots like dandelions may be more difficult to exterminate with NatureZap, but Lowell said if the device is used a few times it can ultimately kill off those plants as well.
Center for Biological Diversity scientist Nathan Donley told TakePart, “It if truly works, I think it will be very successful, because change cannot come quickly enough in the world of pest management. Most weed-killing chemicals in use today have been around for more than 50 years. Innovation is nonexistent in this realm.”
Global Neighbor has received close to $900,000 via the U.S. government’s program Small Business Innovation Research. A few different versions of the product are available on Amazon; the NatureZap DE Cordless currently goes for $199.