The new organic pest control product is self-operating and self-cleaning, zapping harmful bugs without chemicals over an area of several acres.
MOULTRIE, Georgia--How do you organically kill bad bugs while preserving precious pollinators and other beneficial bugs?
Richard Westphal designed a device that does just that, and he believes his Solar Powered Pest Control Machine could change the way farmers - especially those growing organic produce - do business.
“It’s perfect for organic farming. You assemble it, turn it on, and then you don’t have to do anything,” the inventor said.
The device, which Westphal demonstrated at the 2016 Sunbelt Ag Expo, uses smart science to attract unwanted pests such as mosquitoes, flies, moths, beetles, stink bugs and grasshoppers into a 3600-volt electrified grid that zaps them.
But the latest model, GFS-8, is much more complex than a traditional bug zapper.
Here’s how the solar-powered bug zapper works:
A solar panel charges the battery during the day.
The Solar Powered Pest Control Machine has a built-in 30-watt solar panel that soaks up the sun’s rays during the daytime. A day of sun exposure is enough to charge the 12-volt battery for two nights’ worth of bug zapping.
Uses sensors to turn on at night, when bad bugs are easier to single out from beneficials.
GFS-8 uses three sensors to understand when to turn itself on. The sensors measure light, temperature and precipitation. If the weather is too cold or rainy for bugs to be on the prowl, the device doesn’t come on. But when the weather is bug-friendly, it uses a light sensor to detect nightfall. Since most beneficial bugs are out in the daytime and many pests are nocturnal, it works through the night to attract and exterminate the bad bugs.
“Beneficial bugs are not naturally drawn toward light. When you turn on a light in your home, you don’t see a bee or ladybug flying into it,” Westphal explained, but you do see mosquitoes and flies moving toward the light.
That makes the device especially attractive at a time when pollinators and other beneficial bugs are falling victim to pesticides. Read more about the plight of bees - and ways you can help - here.
Uses lights and colors that appeal to unwanted pests.
Equipped with a dual colored UV light bulb, the device is designed to attract harmful bugs, which have a phototaxis, or an attraction to light. Its bright yellow color also is attractive to bugs, appearing to be a beacon of food in the dark of night.
One GFS-8 can kill bugs within as much as a 4-acre radius of that one device.
Perched on a 9-foot pole - intentionally tall enough for bugs to see above the crops - the device can reach unwanted pests at a minimum of 2.5 acres and a max of 4 acres away. The distance varies based on the height of crops and whether any buildings or other farm equipment are in its way.
Self-cleans every night.
The self-sustaining machine cleans itself every night by rotating its wires against a brush-like device that knocks any remaining insects off the grid and into a collection container, leaving the owner one simple job: to empty the collection container a couple times a month.
Has a collection container for exterminated insects.
Ok, here’s the icky - but important - part: the Solar Powered Pest Control Machine has a container that automatically collects the dead bugs. This is important for a couple reasons. First, you’ll be able to see what kind of pests you’re dealing with. One of Westphal’s customers, a farmer, had been treating his crops for various kinds of pests without much success. Using the GFS-8, he discovered he had a major problem with grasshoppers, a pest he didn’t even know he had on his property.
Secondly, Westphal the device collects the bugs because letting dead bugs them fall to the ground could attract other unwanted pests that would eat them, such as rodents.
And finally, if your chickens love bugs, you’ve got a snack to serve them straight from the collection container. You can also simply dispose of the bugs in the garbage.
A Solar Powered Pest Control machine installed on a large farm. In the distance, additional devices can be seen further down the field. This photo and top photo courtesy of GreenFuture Equipment.
What's the ROI on a Solar Powered Pest Control Machine?
The Solar Powered Pest Control Machine includes the solar panel, battery, 9-foot pole and a base for a retail price of $880. Westphal says the average farmer will see a return on the investment within one year, which he says is a fast turnaround compared to ROI timeframes for most solar-powered equipment. And that’s just the beginning. As the device continues to kill off unwanted pests before they’re able to breed, fewer and fewer pests will be seen as time goes by.
The GFS-8 can be bolted to the ground, attached to a pallet or even placed in cement depending on whether you want to be able to move it or keep it stationary.
How the Solar Powered Pest Control Machine was invented
Ironically, Westphal, just 34 years old, had not set out to design the perfect pesticide-free pest control machine for organic farmers when he designed the device.
The young American came up with the design - which he now owns the patent to - as a school project in 2010. While pursuing his MBA overseas at Renmin University of China, his task was to come up with a humanitarian project that could save lives in third world countries.
“People often die of diseases caused by mosquitoes and vectors,” explains Westphal, pictured below at his Sunbelt Ag Expo booth, “so I thought, why not go after the source?”
He designed the machine and immediately saw its benefit to communities and farmers in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Soon, the benefits for others became obvious: he saw that it could work for large scale farms, organic farming, forestry, parks and recreational settings and even residences. After years of developing the machine overseas, he is now in his first year offering it in the United States through his California-based company, GreenFuture Equipment.
You can learn more about the Solar Powered Pest Control Machine by visiting the GreenFuture Equipment website at http://greenfutureequipment.com.