Organic farmers have a wealth of alternatives to synthetic insecticides–biological pest control, row covers, and even natural insecticides. A company called AgriSolar has a different alternative: a solar-powered system that attracts, disorients, and ultimately kills insects.
The system is incredibly effective, if AgriSolar is to be believed. The company claims that it can kill 85% to 90% of all harmful insects on an organic farm. The secret is AgriSolar’s lightbulb, which “is designed with certain color spectrum that attracts significantly more bugs,” according to CFO Arnold Tinter. Here’s how the system works: Solar panels power up the lightbulb, which turns on at dusk when insects start coming out. The insects are attracted to the bulb (from a 20-acre radius), become disoriented, and then eventually fall into a water-filled collection bin.
“Structurally, there’s not much to it,” says Tinter. That doesn’t mean it’s cheap, however; most large, two-bulb units run between $1,000 and $1,200. This is, according to Tinter, comparable to the cost of chemical insecticides.
AgriSolar’s units have already been deployed widely in China, where there are at least 100,000 systems in over 20 provinces (in Guangdong, for example, there are 22 units being tested on rice, vegetable, lychee, dragon eye, banana, sugercane, orange, flowers, and tea tree crops). The solar-powered units are also currently being tested in the U.S. and Europe. If they work as well as AgriSolar claims, we imagine that they will quickly become popular.