Though the evolution of the DES machine will result in soil pest reduction across many cropping systems, Lisi is focused on turf grass and turf management (golf, cricket pitches, horse tracks and more!) to take our pulse electric energy technology to market. To keep up with the decline in chemical availability and efficiency, Direct|Turf offers superintendents and greenkeepers another tool in their toolbox to control pests. Here is how Lisi is using technology - specifically, electricity - at the rootzone to squelch pest and nematode activity and other soil-borne pests that wreak havoc on many courses and turfgrass.
Focusing on four aspects of Lisi Global’s patented Directed Energy Technology (the DES), we can explore what makes this technology unique and timely.
1. We treat at the rootzone. A unique and exciting advantage of Directed Energy technology is that effective energy profiles can be applied to the rootzone, relying on the rhizosphere (where water and nutrients are carried in the root) to carry the electricity. This is done without concern of harming the roots of the turfgrass. Restore healthy appearance with broad spectrum control of endo-parasitic nematodes, phylloxera, and other root dwellers.
2. We use high-voltage technology. This technology approach is clearly explained in a brief 112-page peer reviewed paper, Reviews of Modern Plasma Physics (2021). If reading the entire publication is not what you have time for, let’s help you skip it and give you the details that make sense to Lisi’s tech approach to pest management. Let’s hone in on the concept of pulsed power and pulsed electric fields. According to Akiyama and Heller’s work in 2017, “pulsed power is the technology of accumulating energy during a relatively long period of time and of releasing the accumulated energy in extremely short periods as a high power pulse composed of high voltage and large current.” The DES system is patented technology that generates short and fast pulses of energy delivered to the rootzone impacting the pests - while preventing damage to the plant. The goal, as this technology has been refined over eight years, is not necessarily to kill the organisms in its path but to do just enough damage to have a “biological effect”. So a nematode, for example, is no longer capable of eating, foraging, reproducing, etc. As the peer-reviewed paper explains, the application of electric pulse energy for agriculture is beginning to be realized.
“These applications are mainly based on the biological effects of a spatially distributed electric field and the chemically active species in the plasma. The PEFs are caused by applying pulse voltage between the electrodes and contribute to form pores on the cell membrane or to change conformation of protein. When the applied voltage exceeds the discharge onset criterion, plasmas are generated through the avalanche process of electron accelerated with intense electric field in a gas or liquids medium. The plasmas produce chemically active species, UV radiation, an intense electric field in the vicinity of discharge channel and shock waves, which also have different biological effects.”
What does this mean for pests that are not microscopic?
Thanks to the intensity of the energy profile for nematodes, larger organisms like Mole crickets, leatherjackets, or chafer grubs are a much easier target. This also means that when nematodes aren’t the issue, a less intense profile can be used.
How did we get this figured out?
From years of electrical engineering experience, working with high voltage medical imaging equipment. Rapid advancements in HV technology were key to creating the electronic architecture to achieve the outcomes Lisi was looking to create to specifically target rootzone pests where they do the most damage. And also, geeks. We have qualified geeks on our side.
3. Speed of treatment vs. goal of treatment. A concentration of energy is key to the treatment's efficacy. Controlled pulses of energy from the DES will penetrate the cells of the fungal pathogen or impact the nervous system of the nematode or insect - dramatically shortening the pest's life. This is done in SECONDS with NO thermal effect. Why is this electric pulse energy NOT exactly like getting hit by lightning?
To better understand how electricity is being used with the DES, we can refer to research by Akiyama and Heller, 2017: “For pulsed power generators in the agricultural applications, it is important to design as repetitive high-voltage output with optimum amplitude of voltage and waveform shapes, to deliver the moderate pulsed power into the biologic loads.” By generating high voltage power with electric field distribution, the biological effect is achieved with a focus on the rootzone. By not harming the plant’s root, the pest is altered and inhibited from growth or there is an indirect effect where inactivation of bacteria (pathogen) is achieved. Since this is an alternative to chemical fumigants and nematicides, we can offer the benefit of short term damage to beneficials versus continued and ongoing damage caused by chemical applications. DES is only able to treat within the treatment zone where the high voltage application can reach.
4. Over a period of time, pests will eventually adapt to chemistry. Pests can’t build resistance to being targeted by our high-voltage electric pulses. To date, no creature is immune to the acute effects of electricity…and if you’re a nematode - you don’t have legs and speed to run away. Sorry.
As chemicals are continuing to be phased out in the EU and UK and outlawed in many of the States in North America, agriculture’s reliance on chemical fumigants and nematicides is becoming more difficult. The ongoing supply chain, increased cost of oil for transport and global food chain reality make the need for alternative solutions to controlling pests and pathogens critical. While the DES is currently being deployed on golf greens, greater issues for the overall food supply are looming. We need solutions now.
DES is one solution to enhance vigor and yield without harmful chemicals that impact waterways, animals and people. Lisi Global has been honing its technology for over eight years and has never lost sight of the impact DES technology will have on global food security. This remains at the forefront of our vision for a healthier world. One electric pulse (and golf green) at a time!
“Pulsed power applications for agriculture and food processing.” Reviews of Modern Plasma Physics (2021) 5:12