Glyphosate Alternatives Set to Take Market by Storm as Non-Toxic Weed Control Attracts Farmers, Gardeners and Investors

Posted on Oct 3 2023 - 12:22pm by Sustainable Pulse

Glyphosate-based herbicides are the most popular form of weed control in the world but times are changing and there is a surge in interest amongst both farmers and gardeners in alternatives, which instead of damaging the environment and public health, can help to nurture them.

Sustainable Pulse has been doing a deep dive on the most impressive companies in the non-toxic weed control space and has come across two that stand head and shoulders above the crowd, Contact Organics (available in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.) and RootWave (available in the UK and EU). We sat down to talk to the CEOs of both companies:

Sustainable Pulse – Exclusive Interviews

Sustainable Pulse interview with Contact Organics CEO, Frank Glatz

Where did the idea to set up Contact Organics come from?

Contact Organics Founder, Bill Briggs, spent the last three decades focusing on the research, development and production of non-toxic products. Bill conducted research into liquid Health Supplements and how to make their active ingredients bioavailable. He applied this technology to a non-toxic bioherbicide formulation made from natural ingredients and achieved significant improvements in weed control performance. This product break-through led to the formation of Contact Organics with the aim of bringing to market effective, non-toxic weed control products.

How long has Contact Organics been in business?

Contact Organics was founded in 2015 and markets its non-toxic weed control products in Australia, New Zealand and USA.

Why should farmers and consumers use non-toxic weed control methods?

Industrial agriculture uses a large amount of toxins in its operations. The use of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides has been growing to huge proportions over the last decades. These toxins are now in our soils, environment and food chain. Spraying toxic pesticides also exposes spray operators and the environment to their impact.

Moving to non-toxic weed control methods allows us to break the cycle of toxins and take them out of our environment and food chain.

Where are the next markets Contact Organics wants to develop in? Where are your products currently available?

Contact Organics Weed Terminator products are currently available in Australia, New Zealand and USA. We will launch our highest performing Weed Terminator product in USA within the next months as we will achieve full EPA regulatory approval.

We will then be able to offer the US market the highest performing, non-toxic bioherbicide that has been independently proven as beneficial to soil health and its microbiology. The product is best suited for the Home & Garden, municipality, commercial and landscaping, vineyards, and horticultural markets. Regenerative farming is a critical target market for our business.

What regulatory changes would help non-toxic weed control products enter the market more quickly?

US EPA regulatory approval of our non-toxic Weed Terminator will have taken nearly three years from completing our data dossier for submission. Our product uses only non-toxic, well understood ingredients that are approved by EPA for use in herbicidal applications. Regulatory approval of such non-toxic product in some other countries will take only around 6-9 months. US regulatory processes and timelines are a significant hurdle, in particular for a small start-up business that requires funding to survive until it can start selling its proven and high performing bioherbicide product in the US market. European regulatory processes are probably even more complex and time consuming than the US ones.

How many people currently use Contact Organics’ products? Do you have any famous clients?

Contact Organics sells already to thousands of customers in Australia, New Zealand and USA. The non-toxic bioherbicide works very well in its target applications. The forthcoming launch of our highest performing bioherbicide product in the US market will accelerate our market development.

We have a range of high-profile customers in the municipality, education, landscaping, golf course, vineyards, horticultural markets. We have received many customer references that are shared on our website. Our Weed Terminator product is being used on some of America’s highest profile university campuses and golf courses.

How effective is Contact Organics compared to toxic chemical herbicides such as Roundup?

Contact Organics’ Weed Terminator product is a highly effective bioherbicide that kills weeds through desiccation. It dries them out like a hot summer day. It is a contact herbicide that acts very fast. If you spray a weed on a sunny, warm spring day, you will see the results within an hour.

Weed Terminator is used in very large horticultural and vineyard operations. We conducted a two-year study that showed that our product is as effective as chemical herbicides.

Is Contact Organics cost competitive compared to toxic chemical herbicides?

Contact Organics products are cost competitive to all other alternative products. If you want to use a non-toxic weed control product, Weed Terminator is best in class on performance and cost. Chemical herbicides are mostly poisons and lower in cost as they can be more diluted and require lower spray rates. Contact Organics has developed much stronger formulations of our product that will allow higher dilution, comparable to chemical herbicides. We are currently commercializing application methods that will significantly reduce our spray volumes. These two developments will make our non-toxic bioherbicide products cost competitive with toxic chemical herbicides.

What benefits to human and environmental health does Contact Organics have?

Contact Organics offers significant benefits to human and environmental health. Weed Terminator spray mixtures are non-toxic and non-hazardous. The product is beneficial to soil and its microbiology. Weed Terminator is fully biodegradable without any residues. It has no withholding period. You can enter the sprayed area after the spray has dried off. You can plant your seedlings in the sprayed field without delays. Weed Terminator has no negative impact on animals or insects including bees.

What is the most urgent need for Contact Organics as a business?

Our full focus is on the market launch of our highest performing Weed Terminator product in the US as we will achieve full EPA regulatory approval in the next weeks. In addition, we are working intensely on reducing our cost through application development. We are making excellent progress. Increasing our funding is also a critical need as we require additional funds to fast track our sales and marketing to support our product launches.

Sustainable Pulse interview with RootWave CEO, Andrew Diprose

Where did the idea to set up RootWave come from?

My father, Dr Michael Diprose, built a machine that used electricity to control weeds in sugar beet crops in the 1970s, while working at Sheffield University. The system worked well, but at the time there wasn’t the drive to replace herbicides that there is today.

How long has RootWave been in business?

Our first product, RootWave Pro, was launched in 2018. RootWave Pro is a handheld eWeeder for spot weeding in parks and gardens and treating invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed.  It has been successfully received by customers, with over 150 units operating across UK and Europe.  We are currently launching an exciting new product for vineyards and orchards in the UK and plan to expand to Europe shortly.

The challenge of feeding a growing global population with healthy food, whilst reducing carbon and restoring biodiversity is becoming more pressing and we feel that RootWave can make a significant impact and address this challenge.

Why should farmers and consumers use non-toxic weed control methods?

We all want access to affordable and healthy food free from chemical residues.  Farmers want to deliver what the consumers want, but have the additional challenge of producing food whilst saving costs, emitting less carbon, building healthy soils and restoring nature.  RootWave is unique as it is the only weeding technology that solves all these issues.

Furthermore, RootWave gives farmers peace of mind as their existing tools are withdrawn or become ineffective due to resistance. There is a generational desire for better from both farmers and consumers, and RootWave delivers it.

Where are the next markets RootWave wants to develop in? Where are your products currently available?

Our eWeeder for orchards and vineyards is available now. The first machines will be delivered ahead of the 2024 season. We’ve been demonstrating the machines this summer, and the interest from growers has been phenomenal – there is a real hunger for effective chemical-free weed control.  Interestingly, the majority of our reservations are from conventional growers that want to move away from using chemistry.

What regulatory changes would help non-toxic weed control products enter the market more quickly?

Farmers are well aware of the regulatory pressure on herbicides and the uncertainty this creates – they just don’t know if they will be able to use the tools they use today in the future.  I think the whole industry recognises that change is coming, it is just a question of when.  The argument often used to maintain the status quo is that there are no cost competitive alternatives.  This is simply not true as RootWave’s eWeeder will save the farmer money and increase their revenue and profits.  Regulators should start by banning herbicides where there are cost competitive alternatives, such as in orchards and vineyards.

Governments and investors then need to step in to support the investment required by the farmers and manufacturing companies such as ours for the transition.  We have put our eWeeder for Fruit forward to be included on Defra’s ‘Farming Equipment and Technology Fund’, a grant scheme in the UK aimed at increasing productivity and, we’re hopeful that we will be successful for 2024. This will help growers transition to a system that will help them and their local ecosystem.

How many people currently use RootWave’s products? Do you have any famous clients?

Transport for London, English Heritage and Arsenal Football Club are among the users of our handheld product, RootWave Pro.  We’ve had fantastic feedback from them. In horticulture, we have met with a large number of growers who are very enthusiastic about our product and we’re looking forward to seeing the first machines working on farms early next year.

How effective is RootWave compared to toxic chemical herbicides such as Roundup?

RootWave delivers full control of weeds. In independent trials in various crops RootWave has outperformed standard chemical herbicide programmes. In several cases we have seen RootWave deliver full control in fewer treatments. That, combined with the significant environmental benefits, is why we say RootWave is ‘better weed control’.

Is RootWave cost competitive compared to toxic chemical herbicides?

Yes. The only additional input after purchasing a machine is a slight increase in fuel use for the tractor that powers the machine.  However, the cost of this slight increase in fuel is much lower than the cost of herbicides. Taking into account consumables, depreciation and labour costs, RootWave is lower cost on a per hectare basis for many farm sizes and generates higher profits for growers across the majority of farm sizes.

What benefits to human and environmental health does RootWave have?

RootWave will prevent the use of 18 billion litres of diluted herbicide by 2035, as well as saving 40m tons of carbon and 1m tons of single use plastic. At the same time consumers will enjoy food free from chemical herbicide residues and farmers will see an improvement in their soils, water and biodiversity on farm.

What is the most urgent need for RootWave as a business?

At RootWave we have a technology that works, and huge interest within our target market. We’re currently talking with a number of potential investors and partners who could help us scale the business.


Support the Growth of Non-Toxic Weed Control

To find out how to invest in these wonderful companies please contact us at [email protected]

If you wish to find out how you can start using their products Contact Organics (Australia, U.S.) and RootWave (UK and Europe), please visit their websites for more information.

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About the Author

Sustainable Pulse is a global news outlet covering sustainable agriculture, GMOs and pesticides.

9 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. OKay Jackson October 3, 2023 at 19:36 - Reply

    This sounds almost too good to be true, but I sure hope it is. Our poor planet needs some relief from the constant poisonings it now suffers. We ALL do!

  2. Pat H October 3, 2023 at 21:38 - Reply

    All “natural” ingredients scares me. There are plenty poisons that are natural.

    And in the USA ” natural ” means absolutely nothing, as I understand it.

  3. L. Klatt October 4, 2023 at 01:55 - Reply

    Just use white vinegar on a sunny day, it zaps weeds. I have been doing this for years and it cost less too.

  4. John Galt October 4, 2023 at 16:47 - Reply

    Thank God there are courageous companies like these. Every poison we create annually (millions of tons) ends up sooner or later in our soil, water or air. Add ALL chemicals from every industry and it’s amazing we are still here. But time is passing and we are dying as a planet but just don’t want to admit it yet.

    I pray for their success and plenty of profits to sustain them.

  5. Lance Sanders October 4, 2023 at 17:24 - Reply

    Is there a product for the home owner out on the market? I would sure like to use it! Thanks L,

  6. Martin October 4, 2023 at 17:33 - Reply

    Great News to know that innovative solution are coming for weeding
    regarding electric weeding I only heard about Zasso Xpower solutions already sold in vineyard. Doesn’t it?

  7. Laura Stuebe October 4, 2023 at 19:58 - Reply

    I am so very glad to learn of these solutions. I will buy these products and also hope to invest in them.

  8. Andy S. October 4, 2023 at 20:11 - Reply

    Congratulations on your success! Hoping/praying for your continued growth and ability to get through the politics and replace horrible chemicals that give us all the C***** word.

  9. Sphen October 15, 2023 at 03:36 - Reply

    adjuvants are and were cause of serious concern with vaccines for decades. Mercury just to name one was injected to every child with the respective vaccines until relatively reason times. While I believe no mercury was allowed to be given to children inthe US this practise was carried on for decades. When one sees the soil as a living organism well !………

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