Weedinator! The new pesticide-free way to clear your garden. But beware… it packs as many volts as the electric chair | Mail Online

Weedinator! The new pesticide-free way to clear your garden. But beware… it packs as many volts as the electric chair

By Valerie Elliott

Last updated at 1:25 AM on 22nd January 2012

 

Watch out: The lean, mean, weed-killing machine could be great news for gardeners everywhere

Watch out: Dr Diprose with the lean, mean, weed-killing machine could be great news for gardeners everywhere

It could be the ultimate dream machine for gardeners – an electric gadget that kills weeds in seconds without using harmful pesticides or causing backache from bending over borders.

But this zapper comes with added shock value – the weed exterminator fires a 2,500-volt charge, the same as that used to execute prisoners in electric chairs.

The electricity penetrates the vascular systems of weeds, boiling the water in the plant cells and breaking down the cell walls.

Weeds wilt immediately in a cloud of steam like overcooked vegetables, then dry out and within days disintegrate into the soil.

The device can annihilate garden invaders such as nettles, bindweed and dandelions, and even obliterate the dreaded Japanese knotweed.

But if used on a human, the current would stop the heart by raising the body temperature to 284F (140C).

Electrical engineer Dr Mike Diprose, who invented the zapper, believes it will revolutionise gardening and curb the use of potentially dangerous chemical sprays.

 

‘It could clear overgrown plots in hours and tackle weeds more than 6ft high,’ says Dr Diprose, 64. He has been testing it at his house in Calver, Derbyshire, where instead of a Beware of the Dog sign there is a much starker warning: Danger of Death: High Voltage.

The zapper is a square blue box, similar in size to a vacuum cleaner mounted on a trolley. Leading from the box is a cable attached to a long plastic probe with a handle and a 3in metal spike on the end.

 
Bye bye: The weed Zapper uses a high voltage charge to disperse the unwanted weeds

Bye bye: The weed Zapper uses a high voltage charge to disperse the unwanted weeds

Dr Diprose wears rubber-soled wellies and rubber gloves for safety’s sake as he zaps plants with the probe.

However, the apparatus is so dangerous that use by amateur gardeners has been ruled out.

Instead, he proposes a scheme to license and train operators who could be called out by householders to exterminate weeds.

‘It would be lethal in the wrong hands, like a shotgun,’ said Dr Diprose.

Most interest is expected from parks, gardens and golf clubs. It could even help bring down the cost of organic food. It costs about £2,500 an acre for workers to hand-weed vegetables on organic farms, but a zapper could cut that to £500.

The machine could go on sale this year for less than £2,000.
‘I’d say that in one hour, 3,000 weeds can be destroyed for about 10p of electricity,’ said Dr Diprose.

Guy Barter, of the Royal Horticultural Society, said: ‘It could help reduce the use of weedkillers.’