Herbicide-resistant weeds are estimated to cost U.S. farmers at least $2 billion a year in profits, according to Jon Jackson, president and founder of Global Neighbor and a presenter at this year’s AgLaunch Start-up Station at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show.
Jackson’s company, which is based in Dayton, Ohio, is promoting a novel approach to killing weed seeds with heavy doses of energy before they have a chance to germinate, grow and produce even more seeds.
“As a company we have developed directed energy floral control,” said Jackson in a video provided by Global Neighbor and AgLaunch. “That means we use light to kill weeds and make seeds nonviable. We kill the weeds when they are seeds. Even a small number of weeds at the wrong time reduces yields and lowers profits.”
This year’s Gin Show was held online due to concerns about the pandemic. You can watch virtual presentations from the 2021 show by clicking on www.farmandginshow.com. You must register and receive a name badge to enter the show.
Using light to make weed seed sterile might seem far out but maybe no more so than the idea of spraying chemicals on weeds 100 years ago. Weed scientists have been researching several methods for destroying weed seeds when they are pulled into the combine during harvest.
“What we’re doing today is making long-term weed control worse,” said Jackson. He gave some examples of the estimated 258 herbicide-resistant weeds, including Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and giant ragweed. “These weed seeds and many others are non-shattered and go through the combine only to be spread all over the field. This is happening to grain farmers across the U.S.”
Global Neighbor’s solution to the problem is the Weed Seed Destroyer. The Destroyer, which is attached to the rear of the combine, applies directed energy to the chaff as it passes through the sorting mechanism.
“We have completed our scaled prototype, and when we run chaff containing Palmer amaranth and other weed seeds through it we make greater than 90% of the weed seeds nonviable,” he said. “It operates independently of the combine so there’s no warranty or maintenance issues for the farmer.”
The company will target farmers who are experiencing severe problems with herbicide-resistant weeds and organic farmers who are in need of solutions for chemical-free weed control. It will sell the product through existing ag dealer networks.