11th January 2013
The device is the brainchild of Australia’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation , which runs a Weeds Research and Productivity Program. Dr Graeme Brodie from Melbourne University, who works on the program, has led a team that created a trailer on which four horn antennas are mounted. Those antennas beam out microwaves into the rows of dirt between crops.
When the beams – each of which emit two kilowatts of power, thanks to the presence of a generator – strike a plant for as little as one second Brodie says the effect is akin to placing an egg in a domestic microwave oven.
“The microwaves superheat the water inside the plant, which explodes the leaves and stem,” he says. “In our experiments that was always fatal, because it damages the mechanism that gets nutrients around the plant and if a plant can’t process food it won’t be very happy.”
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