Online Laboratory Magazine


Weed Control with Laser Beams

The laser beam can be used to selectively fight weeds in an early growth stage. This is the result of a current research project between the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) and the Biosystems and Horticultural Engineering (BGT) faculty of the Leibniz Universität Hannover.

More and more, environmentally safe methods are being used to rid fields used for agricultural and horticultural of unwanted plants, or weeds. Chemical pesticides can be used selectively and are suitable for use where conventional, thermal methods such as flaming are either not exact enough, or are too energy consuming. However, drift and overdosing often lead to harmful herbicide residues in the top soil layers, or in surface water. By using an exact, selective laser beam, the growth of weeds can be impaired by destroying the sensitive growth centers of the plants, their so-called meristems. Current laboratory results show that a minimum dose of around 35 Joules is necessary to kill seedlings, and this laser energy can be exactly and effectively adapted to the plant species and growth stage. Researchers from the LZH Department of Materials and Processes, Safety Technology Group are using a CO2 laser in the infrared range with a wavelength of 10.6 µm in their current investigations. The laser radiation has a direct thermal effect on the plants. By using a galvanometer scanner with a flexible mirror system, the laser beam can be moved quickly from plant to plant, and can be focused with high precision on the near-surface meristems. Under laboratory conditions, an accuracy of

Source: Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH)