Zasso carries out first tests within the framework of a European CEDR project in Austria

Invasive plants, which spread along traffic routes represent a massively increasing problem for those institutions that have to take care of the safety and maintenance of traffic routes as well as the protection of health, agriculture and nature reserves. As part of the ControlinRoad project (http://www.controlinroad.org/) of the Conference of European Directors of Roads (Central Office of European Ministries of Transport, http://www.cedr.eu/), Zasso is involved in controlling invasive plants on roads using electrophysical methods. This includes fast-growing plants such as the Japanese knotweed, which until now could hardly be controlled, as well as the highly allergenic ragweed, the phototoxic giant hogweed or the Indian balsam overgrowing the nature reserve. The main trials this year and next year will focus on Burgenland in Austria, a hotspot for invasive plants and also a focus for innovative and sustainable traffic route management.

Fig. 1 shows how up to 3 m high Japanese knotweed has worked its way up to a field of maize (top right) along a farm road next to a stream near an expressway. The plant with roots up to 4 m deep is treated by Zasso with Electroherb as a digital herbicide in different growth stages in order to develop control and containment protocols that are as practical and efficient as possible.

Fig. 2: Ambrosia (ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), the green strip directly at the edge of the road) is a highly allergenic plant that already populates large parts of the roadsides on motorways and expressways in Austria and Bavaria and is to be prevented from forming seeds with Zasso Electroherb, without having to damage the biologically high-quality roadside flora by permanent mowing. The Japanese knotweed in the background near to a railway line has meanwhile massively spread over a field (middle) and is spreading rapidly through soil cultivation.

While the effectiveness tests with Electroherb against invasive plants are only just beginning within the project framework, it is already clear from many discussions and site visits that a control of invasive plants urgently requires innovative methods such as Electroherb. It is best to develop both the Zasso-technology and the management concepts across applications on railways, hydraulic engineering, road transport and agriculture. For example, applicator types from permanent fruit and wine crops can be adapted very well to road edges and reflector posts. Established boom concepts can also be applied to tractors and multi-functional vehicles with mowing tools and mulchers from agricultural and road management working on railways and hydraulic engineering applications. For the application of the Zasso technology itself it is often irrelevant, except for the application protocols and instrument parameterization, whether agricultural weeds are to be controlled, siccation measures are to be carried out or invasive plants are to be prevented from spreading further. Zasso therefore strives to develop tailor-made solutions with maximum application flexibility of Electroherb technology, even beyond apparent application limits, and to make them available to users in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner.