Researchers in Germany may have found a unique way to handle weeds in crop production: Zap them. The scientists are testing lasers against weeds instead of using herbicides. Europe, well known for not endorsing the use of pesticides, has continuously been looking for alternatives to chemical pesticides to control weeds.
The scientists at Leibniz University and a laser center in Hanover are working to develop robots or drones that would zap weeds with laser beams.
“Our goal is to develop a more environmentally-friendly way of getting rid of weeds. The use of herbicides is associated with risk,” Christian Marx, a researcher with the Laser Zentrum Hannover is quoted as saying.
Although European farmers prefer organic methods of control, they’ve found that hand weeding is costly and labor intensive.
The challenge scientists face is developing sensors that will distinguish the right species of plant to aim their lasers at. The idea would be that the laser beam would focus on the weed’s center to kill it. This will also challenge researchers to adjust the intensity of the beams.
Admittedly, the lasers would be challenged by large fields. This technology might be a better option for greenhouses or tree nurseries.