Using Heat to Fight Pests

Taylor Hillman Environment, General, Specialty Crops, Tree, nut & vine crops

Marty Fischer
Fighting pests without the pesticides is the goal of a Northern California company. Sabrina Hill reports on the new technology.
Click to open or download audio report.

Heat is the cool new thing when it comes to pest control. Grapegrowers in Napa Valley learned last week about how specialized heat technology can keep some invasive pests out of the vineyards. Marty Fischer, the CEO of AgroThermal Systems explains the “thermoblast” machine.

“It puts out about 140 degrees centigrade air. The purpose of it is as a pest control mechanism,” he said. “Little insects heat up better than bigger insects. We tend to be very effective on microorganisms, fungus, bacteria, and the smaller insect group.”

A regular farm tractor pulls the machine through vineyards or berry crops, as it blasts the heated air with a wind velocity of 85 to 100 miles per hour. The treatment is applied weekly during the growing season from bud to harvest. The technology is still relatively new, but has been in testing for a number of years.

To see what the machine looks like, watch our video report.