Air compressors have a long history of applications in agriculture, with compressors providing the power needed to spray crops with herbicides for many years.

However, new research suggests a new use for air compressors in tackling unwanted weed growth – simply blasting them out of the ground.

Reported in the latest issue of the journal Weed Technology, Frank Forcella of the US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service claims compressed air alone can achieve 90% control of weeds over the course of a season.

This is achieved not by blasting the weeds with herbicides that they can develop an immunity to, but by blasting them with a jet of air containing grit.

In particular, the use of air compressors in this way can allow weeds to be eliminated from crop fields that are being grown to organic standards, where herbicides may not be an option.

The study focused on abrasive grit blasted at corn plants and found, significantly, that the corn plants themselves were not damaged by the process, nor were their yields less than usual, making compressed air an eco-friendly and economical option for growers.