In Field Technologies

Magnetic Induction Heating Pest Control

An application of high-frequency magnetic heating (like that used in induction hobs) to kill invertebrate pests.

The Technology

Arable crops suffer significant losses due to slug and insect attack. Resistance, legislation and concern about environmental impact of insecticides on beneficials is driving research into non-chemical insect control technologies. Agri-Induction Ltd is developing an application of high-frequency magnetic heating (like that used in induction hobs) to kill invertebrate pests. The approach relies upon differential electrical conductivity of plants and animals. Invertebrates are small-sized poor electrical conductors, but because they are hundreds of times more electrically conductive than plants, induction heating rates are proportionately higher, allowing the invertebrate pests to be efficiently killed while leaving host plants unharmed. Researchers have also shown that magnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide naturally occur in many insects, which may aid this approach.

How it Works

Electromagnetic induction heating allows targeted heating of pests on and within plants resulting in their death. Differential heating occurs by means of energy absorption from an alternating magnetic field. By applying a high-frequency alternating current to an induction coil, a time-varying magnetic field is generated. The material to be heated is inside the magnetic field and the alternating electromagnetic field induces eddy currents or hysteresis which then heat the pest up but not the plant. The pest control system uses unique high-powered megahertz frequency technology significantly greater than that used in domestic systems.

Farmer and Agronomist Benefits

This technology is likely to find initial application in nurseries with high value produce to control vine weevil larvae, and in post-harvest storage to control pests, where damage to beneficial organisms is lowest. Potentially, when proven to work at scale and integrated with appropriate strategies to avoid damage to beneficial organisms (in soil and on plants), it could be deployed in a wider range of field applications. Discussions are ongoing between HLH and Agri-induction looking at possible CSFB larvae control in oilseed rape.

Key Researchers and Stakeholders

Agri-Induction Ltd.

Perpetual Research Consultancy Ltd.


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