Japanese knotweed, Source: Depositphotos

Antwerp electrocutes invasive plants

Antwerp electrocutes invasive plants

This new method for environmental preservation has been described as ‘nature-friendly’

The official website of the city of Antwerp announced that it is trying out a new way to control the spread of an invasive plant called Japanese knotweed. And that new method is – electrocution.

Reportedly, the plants are subjected to 4000-volt currents through an electric generator which sends the charge through the stems and roots causing them to die, we presume. The website doesn’t go into detail about how the electrical charge affects the plant and its cells exactly, given that plants don’t have a nervous system or hearts.

Despite the gruesome-sounding method, the authorities are quick to point out that electrocution is actually a very nature-friendly way to eradicate plants. That is, for all other nature, except said plants. The main argument posited is that it spares the soil around the plant, thus requiring no digging.

Why is Japanese knotweed such a problem anyway?

The Japanese knotweed has adapted well to the urban environment, where it grows and spreads quickly. The trouble with that plant is that it can grow up to three meters in a matter of weeks. Likewise, its roots can reach three meters in depth.

The harmful results of such unchecked growth can be various. For one, the plant can cause damage to asphalt, sewers, utility lines and foundations. In addition, native plant species have fewer opportunities to grow wherever the Japanese knotweed appears, given that it hogs all precious resources, such as soil, moisture and sunlight.

The city has about 600 places where the plant occurs. That is the equivalent of an area of ​​more than 100,000 square meters. Japanese knotweed is also expanding at a rapid pace along the banks of the Scheldt River.

In places where the knotweed causes little or no nuisance, the city simply leaves the plant alone.



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