Synthetic pesticides have caused their share of environmental problems and on organic farms, used of synthetic chemicals is forbidden. While organic farmers have a number of earth friendly options available to them; a cheaper alternative has been developed that taps the potential of solar energy.
Manufactured by China-based Agrisolar Solutions, the simple system consists of just a solar panel, small deep cycle battery, special light bulbs, timer system, sensor and couple of containers filled with water.
The solar panel charges a battery during the day that powers the light bulbs, which automatically switch on at night. The special bulbs generate a wavelength of light that attracts insects. When the insects come with 15 – 30 centimeters of the light, an additional frequency wave disorients the creatures, causing the insects to drop into the water containers and drown. The resulting insect “soup” could then be applied as a fertiliser.
Agrisolar states the system is more effective than the use of harmful chemicals and each system will last 7 – 10 years. The company estimates use of the system in China costs around $1 per acre per month; compared to $9 a month per acre for insect control using synthetic pesticides and up to $60 per acre per month for herbal and organic solutions.
Testing carried out in late 2009 found use of the solar insect killer in an apple orchard in Shan’xi Province reduced the density of harmful insects by approximately 85%. A test on a rice crop in Hubei Province reduced the need for chemical insecticides by 60%-70%.
The solar insect killer is already in wide use in China, where over 35,000 systems are installed on 240 farms.
Agrisolar announced last month it would be launching the product in Europe after the European Parliament passed the Pesticides Framework Directive legislation that aims to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides on human health and the environment. It’s unknown whether the system will be available in Australia anytime soon.