For farmers and growers around the globe, tackling pests and pathogens is an historic struggle of epic proportions and with increases in insect resistance to chemicals, banned fumigants, like methyl bromide, plus a global awareness around environmental/sustainable practices, it’s a wonder we have golf courses to enjoy and strawberries to eat year-round!
Technology arrives on the scene, once again, to showcase how innovation provides positive outcomes and earth-conscious alternatives. Lisi Global is a Pacific Northwest-based company founded by a nematologist, an electrical engineer and a former project manager for professional race car teams. In what turned out to not be a lab accident, Lisi Global utilizes energy to eradicate nematodes and other plant parasites with its patented Directed Energy System (DES) technology.
Chemistry has long been a solution for taming insects, pathogens and other species committed to the destruction of our human food chain. As history shows, humankind has been struggling against insects for growing our food since our humblest beginnings. The progress of science and technology in the 20th century changed our capacity for food production. “The primitive tools now had scientific reasoning to explain their efficacy and identify their chemical formulations, moving them from the realm of natural extracts to synthesized pesticides, and signaling the rise of the chemical pesticide revolution” (From “The Evolution of Chemical Pesticides”). Pesticides were the only way to reduce crop damage, feed an increasing human population and allow for more land to be utilized for farmers and growers.
Plant-parasitic nematodes are on the rise in turf, berry trees and wine vineyards with significant populations in nearly every cropping system in the world. They feed on the roots of plants, decreasing plant vigor, and dramatically reducing crop yield. The damage caused by these pests interferes with the root system's ability to access and uptake nutrients and water. This unseen damage results in increased resource use as water and fertilizers are applied in increasing amounts to overcome the decreased efficiency of the damaged root system. Nematodes are persistent and are estimated to cause more than $100 billion in global crop losses annually. They threaten global food security by severely impacting agriculture's ability to sustainably increase productivity to feed an ever-increasing human population.
Lisi Global offers a chemical-free alternative to relying solely on nematicides to improve crop (and turf) outcomes, and understands the growing need to increase our global reliance on alternative energy solutions.
Lisi’s technology offers substantial benefits over every synthetic chemical developed for nematode or pathogen management, the drawbacks to which are numerous:
Lisi Global’s technology, utilizing electricity as our means to mitigate pathogens in turf and soils, works synergistically with chemicals and can stop the increase of chemical usage, positively affecting how we think of pest mitigation in general. The synergistic equation looks like this: based on what we now know of chemical usage and their decrease in efficacy on crops and turf, Directed Energy technology works to increase chemical efficacy while reducing their frequency and volume.
And we can look at it this way: Lisi’s DES technology works symbiotically with chemical applications to create more effective outcomes (reduction in pathogens) in the turf or on plant roots. The history of chemicals and pesticides is certainly long and complex but the benefit of our technology is that there is finally a co-corroborator on the scene that enhances the efficacy of current chemical compounds (and reduces the amounts of chemicals applied), to assist with “cleaning” the soil with a short pulse of high voltage electricity and an instant eradication of the nematodes that were within range at the time of application.
The fight against methyl bromide in California strawberry fields (see “wilted” info below) is certainly another crop that has seen an ongoing struggle with chemical fumigants. The struggle with pests and pesticides IS complex and growing even more so with the increased usage of chemicals along with pest’s resistance; the equation does not bode well for farmers, growers or the environment.
Our DES, along with a crop-specific conveyance implement, creates a unique method of delivering tailored doses of energy into the soil to target pests and fungal pathogens to reduce their populations with/without the use of chemicals. The carbon neutral implementation uses solar-powered batteries to move the technology across turf grasses or along crops. For wine growers, and certainly those in our home state of Washington, there is NO chemical or other solution for controlling pathogens except plucking the commodity (ie. throwing away thousands of dollars worth of time, money and materials once an evasive pathogen has begun embedding itself into the grape roots).
From golf turf to strawberry seedling soil to wine vineyards, Lisi’s technology is indeed a positive step forward in our human struggle to fight plant pests and pathogens. Lisi’s technology improves turf and crop health by eradicating the pathogens from the treated soil, offers immediate results (with no down time for the golf course owner) for farmers or growers alike.
Guthman, J. 2019. Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry. University of California Press: Oakland, California.