place

Zasso –

News

Latest news

Reversion to Ploughing is not an Alternative

It is possible to look out with optimism to the great challenges in agriculture

The development of sustainable technologies for weed control is well on track – to support an agricultural system that uses less chemical herbicides.

“Swords to ploughshares” was a slogan that still envisioned the plough as a peaceful alternative and reliable a basis for food production. But this image has changed considerably. Although the first proponents of no-till soil management recognised more than 100 years ago that churning up the soil destroys essential ecosystems in the long run, it was only the widespread use of Glyphosate that made this method a worldwide success, because the chemical herbicide allows control of obstinate weeds without the high energy input of ploughing.

The carry-over of fungal diseases through re-germination of volunteer grain (“green bridge”) can be inhibited or the spread of nematodes after a rape seed harvest minimised by just one application of Glyphosate, without disturbing the soil or deeper tillage. The risk of erosion through water and wind decreased, which was decisive for many growing regions around the globe. As a result, the numbers of earthworms and other soil organisms increased significantly. Suddenly the soil was demonstrably able to retain so much additional carbon (while at the same time storing more water) that no-till farmers could become sellers of CO₂ certificates. Even with a diminishing rural population still working in the fields, ever larger areas could be cultivated and gain good yields. Farmers everywhere soon converted to soil conservation approaches and created entirely new agroecosystems, with distinct social and economic implications. Some areas of the purely conventional agriculture apply Glyphosate even too a much greater extent than no-till farmers, also decreasing their energy consumption and workload.

However, the side-effects of the Glyphosate triumph are becoming increasingly obvious. Aside from the dangers for the health and environment and
the creation of resistant plants, microorganisms in the soil, insects as well as birds are also directly or indirectly affected by the broad, often extensive and extremely efficient use of the chemical. Not all effects can be directly and causally retraced, but knowledge about interrelations is steadily increasing. The implementation of the precautionary principle prevalent in Europe also calls for restrictions, and these currently get off the ground.

An overview of all arguments against a reduction or abolition of Glyphosate show several important aspects:

  1. Glyphosate has shaped agriculture, the environment and social structures to a considerable extent.
  2. The dependency on its application is therefore large. The same also applies to the risk of damage in case no adequate substitute becomes available in time, before a foreseeable phasing out of further application areas or in the case of inevitable restrictions on short notice.

Farmers therefore need to be offered a practical, technical alternative when it comes to weed control, and most of all one where no soil movement is involved! Otherwise, a change will generate increased and substantial CO₂ – as well as nutrient releases – and this effect already happens during the first ploughing. In addition, the ecosystems that have been established over so many years will again be destroyed. It is not surprising that pasture tilling is strictly regulated by the EU. In addition, the status quo regarding manpower, erosion, soil compaction and bonus systems for careful tillage cannot easily be changed. Turning exclusively to organic farming (which also partly uses tilling to large extent) with totally different agroecosystems and cultivation methods is also no option. This approach cannot be transferred to the necessary scale and is not at all a short-term alternative for all regions. Moreover, many organic farmers know the limitations of their weed control methods only too well and they are increasingly looking for new options. But no other chemical herbicides will be forthcoming. The chemical industry has been searching for more than 25 years now. An extended use of already existing chemical herbicides is also no solution. It is with good reason that their application is becoming more and more restricted, with increasing knowledge about their side effects and the possibility of accumulation in the human body and the environment. The only reason that Glyphosate is the most common herbicide today is that there are no more recent, cheaper and more efficient replacements. It has become more of a victim to its own application success, as a herbicide without alternatives and a publicised low toxicity, than to the increasingly obvious health and environmental impacts. Yet while these rather complex and indirect side-effects have remained obscure for a long time, this makes them no less relevant.

Consequently, the challenge is a great one when the focus is now on restricting Glyphosate as well as other problematic herbicides. No matter what chemical molecules have been taken off the market in past decades: in each case, a very successful and economically relevant product needed to be replaced by an even better, technologically more advanced one. For example, the case of replacing PCBs and CFCs initially demanded various extensive innovations before the environment could actually start to benefit. Every time an increase in intelligent technology and a decrease of residue where the main goals stated. These complex problems can only be approached in a concrete way and to a degree acceptable to individual farmers as well as society, by reinforcing the social and economic structures in agriculture, lowering the overall energy consumption, using soil for carbon storage, reducing the impact on the environment and strengthening sustainability. Many of the required building blocks have already been developed, and innovation would at least gain a decisive boost if a change were projected. Wider awareness of alternatives, which now have to be extensively studied, tested and put into practice, forms a core element of a forward-looking, sustainable agriculture.

Europe already has many marketable methods for weed control in cities and fields, using such innovative techniques as high voltage, pressurised
water, hot water, highly biodegradable nature-like substances, sensor-controlled hoes and brush systems. Instead of monopolies and monocultures, diversity is key for the companies. What all of these mostly medium-sized enterprises have in common is a large potential to prove, in a flexible way and on short notice, how and where chemical herbicides can be replaced by innovative technologies – while also addressing currently unsolved issues (resistances, lack of confidence in the public opinion, image loss). It is definitely wrong to claim that Glyphosate is without alternatives and its abolition will lead to considerable losses and damages, for there are already alternative concepts in place – for the sustainable control of spontaneous vegetation that
crosses the threshold to becoming damaging and therefore a weed. Apart from the already applied mechanical methods on the soil surface, Zasso proposes the electrophysical treatment with high voltage currents. This technique offers an opportunity of controlling and treating the vegetation systemically, right down into the roots, with an effect similar to that of Glyphosate, but without moving the soil. The high voltage is conducted through the plants and specifically damages their water supply in the shoots and roots. Only plants touched directly by the applicators are going to dry out afterwards, and all without any chemical residues. The soil is not moved, erosion avoided and the habitat of the soil organisms remains totally intact. This efficient method can be used as well to treat weeds on paving, gravel, water-bound coverings and streets. Depending on the area of application, other innovative methods can also prove to be effective. And ultimately a combination of methods is going to keep spontaneous vegetation in check wherever it definitely causes damage and becomes a weed. This demands a more precise, selective weed control approach – to protect the environment in all those locations where vegetation is more valuable for animals and plants when it remains in place than when it is removed.

 

In summary, it is possible to look out with optimism to the great challenges in agriculture. And while there may be no chemical replacements for Glyphosate, there will be numerous physical alternatives for weed control. Many of these innovative techniques are currently developed or already deployed in Europe. Now the task is for all parties concerned to work together in identifying the best alternatives for individual agricultures and regions and to implement them straight away. Only then can the health and economic risks for farmers, the environment and our society overall be kept within limits – for a future-oriented, strong agricultural sector.

Download the PDF here:

Zasso – Reversion to ploughing is not an alternative

read more at :

Application Sheets english

Digital Herbicide – weeding in agriculture

Zasso secures Equity Financing from Green Towers and Ergas Ventures

Zasso Digital Herbicide – a leading platform developer for electric weed management – today announced that it has agreed an equity financing by Green Towers GmbH and Ergas Ventures LLC. The proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate Zasso’s continued growth and market expansion. This investment underlines Zasso´s commitment to developing pioneering, eco-friendly solutions for weed control.
“We are proud to get two well-regarded investors on board who will not only support Zasso with an equity investment, but also serve on the company’s advisory board.” – says Dirk Vandenhirtz, CEO of Zasso GmbH.

“Zasso has built a robust solution addressing the critical need for non-chemical weed management across a wide range of end-markets,” said Jean-Pierre Ergas, Partner of Ergas Ventures LLC. “The company has an especially impressive portfolio of proven, sustainable and scalable applications. I am excited to renew my commitment to Zasso as they continue to drive tremendous growth in the business.”

About Zasso


Zasso Group specializes in clean plant control technologies for agriculture, silviculture, home, traffic and urban areas.
Zasso’s methods target both the shoots and the even more critical roots of undesired plants systemically by employing advanced lightweight high-voltage methods. Our ground-breaking systems deliver efficient and robust solutions and add an innovative approach to the dwindling number of available methods for environmentally sympathetic plant control.
„Electroherb reshapes weed control and plant management for both current and future challenges. “

About Green Towers GmbH

Green Towers GmbH is a family-owned company specialising in investment in various private equity projects with a focus on sustainability.

About Ergas Ventures LLC

Ergas Ventures LLC is a Franco-American family business, incorporated in the US and already an existing investor in Zasso Group AG. Jean-Pierre Ergas, Managing Partner of Ergas Ventures LLC, is the former Chairman and CEO of industrial firms including Cegedur and Cebal in France, American National Can and Bway Corporation in the US, as well as former Chairman of Alcan Europe.”

 

Download the pdf here Zasso Press release

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Zasso in western Switzerland (Agiez)

300-400 spectators visited us in Agiez on September 27, 2017.

While having best weather conditions we were able to present our Electroherb for the last time this year in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. After an intensive exchange with interested parties from France, Switzerland and Germany, we were able to start our machine demonstration at 5:30 pm. To illustrate our results, we had already treated a strip about four hours earlier (see pictures). The so-called Digital Herbicide works very quickly in warm and dry weather, so that you can recognize significant effects after only a few hours.
We were delighted to be present at another Swiss No-Till event – thanks a million for the invitation. We would also like to thank Jean-Daniel ETTER and his company “Prometerre”, who were responsible for the great organisation, and Grunderco for providing us with the large tractor – normally a tractor with about 100 HP is sufficient for our system.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reshaping Weed Control for a Healthier Future Webinar – July 20th 3pm CST

Zasso has been invited to join the iSelect Fund webinar:

It’s been nearly 30 years since we discovered a new type of herbicide, and every year the number of chemical-resistant weed strains continues to march higher. Today, there are more than 35 different glyphosate-resistant weed types worldwide, and regulators are increasingly pushing for clean, non-chemical solutions.

Learn how electricity is being used to address this market at “Reshaping Weed Control for a Healthier Future,” a free webinar to be held July 20th at 3PM CST with Dirk Vandenhirtz, CEO of Zasso Group. (Even if you can’t make the live broadcast, registered users will be able to view a recording on our website after the fact.)

Register now.

Zasso Group’s electroherb system can be attached to a conventional tractor, delivering an electrical current below the surface that kills invasive weeds at the root. Unlike other non-chemical herbicides, this system is fast and long-lasting, preventing erosion and allowing for good water infiltration on treated fields.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Self-driving measurement robot for testing soil resistance

To improve our Zasso digital herbicide the team developed a self-driving robot system which can continuously measure the soil resistance. The data are now feed back into the development of the second-generation equipment, to help to improve efficiency. The latest 3 kVA unit is running multiple tests on different plots. With 3 times more energy we can improve average speed and width of the application of the digital herbicide. In parallel we run ecotoxicology tests to proof that the application is not harmful to beneficial organism such as earthworm, bees and ants.

 

 

Biological and practical effects of Electroherb on plants

As chemical weed control in cities, on traffic routes and particularly on hard surfaces is practically banned since 2017, currently the only remaining approaches are thermic and me­chanical methods. For all their diversity, both have in common that they hardly ever pene­trate the soil and ultimately only kill off the plant leaves. Their aim is to starve the roots more or less quickly, depending on the plant species, and this way cause die-off. Contrary to the chemical approach, this non-systemic and hardly selective effect demands a relatively high frequency of treatment, particularly if the plants were able to collect solar energy in subterranean organs over a longer period of time which would enable them to regrow.
In contrast, the Electroherb system, tried and tested in Brazil and now introduced in Europe by zasso, offers yet again a systemic approach, by entering the leaves of the plant and then destructively spreading right down into the roots, similar to for example Glyphosate. The difference being that there is no chemistry involved at all, because the Electroherb method employs electric high energy instead.

 

weed control

Fig. from l. to r.: 1. Dark-green, damaged leaves 5 minutes after treatment. 2. Grass turned brown and dry after 24 hours. 3. Recolonization after eight weeks only in areas where invasive grass can enter. 4. Establishment of herbaceous flowering plants as there is no competition from grass, creating a superior food supply for insects.

The electroweeding process works as follows: If (and only if!) an electric applicator touches a plant, many cells in the leave are already destroyed straight away, like blanching, but with­out a lot of heat; the leaves then initially discolor to dark-green (so-called “wet clothes ef­fect”) and all released cell sap is quickly drying out. At the same time the electrical field de­stroys the electronically charged chlorophyll molecules, which turns the plants yellow-brown. The current spreads through the water and nutrition transport system within the stems and roots and destroys these systems within seconds. As the dried-out plants re­main in place and shades the soil. New plants will have a hard time settling in, just like with chemical herbicide treatment, and depending on soil and climate conditions this will take between 30 and 120 days. If necessary, the plant material can be removed and disposed off mechanically right after extermination. In contrast to chemical treatments this is possible without losing any effectiveness on the root system.
With the energy generated from 1 liter of diesel, around 15 000 to 150 000 plants can be eradicated, depending on their size and the soil conditions.

 

Ökofeldtage in Frankenhausen (Germany)

Zasso showcased its Electroherb at a German traidfare for the first time

At the first Ökofeldtage in Frankenhausen (21-22 June 2017) many visitors from all over the world were able to get more information about the Electroherb. Almost 10 People non-stop were at our booth and were highly interested in our product.

Furthermore, we were glad to welcome a lot of journalists, who have already mentioned us or will do it within the next days in there highly rated magazines. Alongside these articles, Zasso had its first appearance in German Television and Radio. In the next days we will highlight some articles on our news-page.

Many thanks to the organisers of the Ökofeldtage for the possibility to participate in as an example of Innovation and for the provision of the tractor by Massey Ferguson . See you next year!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SWISS NO-TILL Zasso Field Day

Zasso has been invited to demonstrate the latest Digital Herbicide technology in Switzerland together with Swiss No Till. The event was a great success and you can track the results of the application here: www.no-till.ch/index.php/veranstaltungen/items/flurbegehung-ost.html

Please contact our application expert Matthias Eberius  matthias.eberius@zasso.de directly to receive further data on the trial

If you which to have a look at the result please visit

  • Biezwil SO
  • Oberacker, Rütti Zollikofen BE

 

Zasso impressions at Swiss No Till application

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

European trial time series (Agro-System)

End of  April 2017. Zasso Germany started the first Public European test of the  Electroherb agro-system for digital weeding during the Zasso Day meeting. Before the system was electrically adapted to the European soil conditions which differ significantly from those in southern Brazil.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Instead of using a rear-applicator, we used a full width front-applicator to avoid compaction of weeds prior to Electroherb treatment which would be created by the wheels of the tractor otherwise.
This applicator is height-adjustable on the front three-point powerlift adapting the applicator inclination to areas with different plant height.

Like all other agro-systems, the mechanical energy of the tractor is converted to a high-frequency and high-voltage by a generator and converter unit at the rear and passed through cables to the front applicators. Electric energy is flowing from one applicator through shoot, root and soil to the second applicator passing additional plants and closing the circuit.
Even if April was very rainy and the soil surfaces were very moist, we found one sunny day with dry conditions while air temperature remained still low. The testing area was a hardly cultivated meadow which was mainly grazed by horses. This scenario ensured quite different weeds and types of grasses.
The immediate results were very promising. Even dense grasses became dark green after a few minutes and brownish after 6 hours.
Since the trials were made in Aachen, a city being well-known for rainy days, the weather was often very cloudy, cold and rainy on the days after the application.
Nevertheless, the grass and other weeds became more and more brownish. Sharp edges between treated and untreated areas showed impressively that only touched plants die and other are not harmed.
Time series made over the next weeks showed different modes of drying down. While thistles were already killed by comparatively low energy dosage, other grasses and weeds needed more energy. For some, a 2nd application and adapted applicators will be the next step to maximise the efficiency of the residue free weed killing.For first tests in Europe the results look very promising and further trials both of for agro and urban applications are ongoing.
Just download our Zasso time series here to see all results in Detail.

The Zasso Field Day was a rainy but a successful one.

Zasso Fieldday 2nd May

the team demonstrated the equipments to 90 interested parties from 11 different countries.
To offer a bilingual event the English Speakers Group started with the presentation of the technical concept and the German Group could have a look at the equipments.
The speaker for the presentation of the technical concept was Zasso’s CTO in Germany, Matthias Eberius, who has been involved in agro-innovation for more than 20 years, leading major developments in technologies for plant breeders.
Dirk Vandenhirtz, the CEO of Zasso Aachen, made the presentation of the equipment with the help of the German team and the Brazilian team.
After a lunchbreak the groups changed places. In the end, the Hon Major Marcel Phillipp – the city of Aachen-  , made a closing speech for the first Zasso Field Day.

Dirk said “Thank you all for coming, I hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you team for working hard and helping where you could in the organization of the event. I would also like to thank the city for providing us the field for the exhibition and especially to the mayor who took some of his time to be here and say some kind words to us.” closing his speech.

Download the presentation of the day here:

 

Some Pictures of the Zasso Fieldday

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Older entries »

More information.

If you need more information and details about Intelligent Weed Management or zasso, please contact us.