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An economic assessment of electric weed control and comparable alternatives - PS2143

The need for effective non-chemical forms of weed control is increasing. The number of chemical options
available is rapidly declining, the pipeline of new products is very limited and recent legislation places
emphasis on non-chemical means of control. A recent review of non-chemical pest control methods
(PS2809) outlined several different options for non-chemical weed control in each crop types but indicated
that in many cases the non-chemical options are not economically viable, based on efficacy and cost of use,
when compared to chemical means of control.
Electric weed control was researched through the 1980s and 90s, for weed control however development of the
equipment was not pursued until more recently when the idea was revisited through the HortLINK SCEPTRE
project. Over the past two years, the technology has been explored as a potential alternative to chemical
control of perennial and annual weeds. The technology has clear applications in horticulture, arable and
amenity sectors. Despite being effective in trials as an alternative to chemical weed control, the economics
of this method are not well understood and therefore it is currently impossible to assess if this would be a
suitable method of weed control.
The main aim of this work is to assess the economic viability of electric weed control and comparable
alternatives. This will include first determining the crops/situations whereby electric weed control would be
appropriate (e.g. between alleys in bush fruit) and identifying what other forms of weed control would be
used in each crop/situation. Using a methodology developed as part of this project, each method will be
evaluated, taking into account the cost of treatment and the value of the crop loss or gain from using it.
The main output of this project will be a set of matrixes comparing the economic viability of each method in each
crop/situation. These will serve as a simple look up tables for comparing the costs of weed control methods.
The project will be delivered by a team of ADAS researchers and consultants with expertise in weed biology,
economics and specific crop management.
1. Identify the potential uses for electric weed control and the alternative non-chemical weed control
options available in those crops/situations.
2. Develop methodology to assess the economics of the non-chemical weed control measures identified.
3. Prepare a matrix to compare the economic viability of the selected weed control measures.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : PS2143 - An economic assessment of electric weed control and comparable alternatives Final Report   (599k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £15,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Herbicide use              
Pesticide use              
Fields of Study
Pesticide Safety