Scientists trial lasers to replace pesticides

Researchers in Germany are working on an alternative to poisonous herbicides. They're aiming lasers at weeds.
A team of scientists at Leibniz University and a laser center in Hanover are developing an alternative to herbicides that would use robots or flying drones to zap weeds with laser beams.
Chickweed, dandelion and shepherd's purse are typical pests that have beleaguered farmers in central Europe since the arrival of agriculture. Today these weeds compete with sprouting corn, rapeseed or turnips for sunlight, water and soil nutrients.
Until now, conventional farms have battled these pests with expensive herbicides that are often poisonous and can spread to land and water beyond the target plant.
"Our goal is to develop a more environmentally-friendly way of getting rid of weeds. The use of herbicides is associated with risks", said Christian Marx, a researcher with the Laser Zentrum Hannover.
The laser weed control project is headed by Thomas Rath and Heinz Haferkamp at the Leibniz University Hanover.
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