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Toro, national lab team up to improve landscape irrigation

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December 03, 1996 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. — Recreation areas, golf courses and backyards soon will be greener thanks to a technology originally developed by Battelle at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prevent root growth into buried low-level radioactive waste.

Battelle's licensee -- Geoflow Inc. of Sausalito, Calif. -- has entered into an agreement with The Toro Company that allows Toro to manufacture and market underground irrigation systems for landscape applications that incorporate Battelle's ROOTGUARD® technology.

"Underground systems are an efficient way to irrigate turf, but historically they have been impractical since roots often clog the plastic emitters which discharge water," explained Dr. Peter Van Voris, a co-inventor of the process and a Battelle researcher at Pacific Northwest.

The Toro root-control product consists of a molded plastic water emitter impregnated with Treflan, an environmentally friendly, root-growth inhibiting herbicide produced by DowElanco. The plastic acts as a reservoir for the herbicide, which is released slowly into the soil surrounding the emitter at a uniform rate and prevents roots from clogging the buried water emitters.

The root-inhibiting technology has its genesis in a product developed by Battelle at Pacific Northwest in the early 1980s.

"The Department of Energy wanted something that would permit ground cover to grow but would prevent roots from penetrating underlying clay and asphalt seals," recalled Van Voris. The seals are used to cover uranium mill tailings and prevent the escape of radon gas.

In the past few years, Battelle has entered into agreements with other companies to manufacture ROOTGUARD-based products for various root control applications. Reemay Inc. of Old Hickory, Tenn., is manufacturing Typar Biobarrier® Root Control System to protect roadways, sidewalks, driveways, highway shoulders, building and house foundations, tennis courts, swimming pools, waste sites and landfills. Geoflow already manufactures underground irrigation root-control technology for agricultural purposes.

Battelle is looking for licensees to modify the process for other applications including the prevention of root growth in sewer gaskets or to control insects.

For more information on their subsurface landscape irrigation system, write The Toro Company, Irrigation Division, P.O. Box 489, Riverside, CA 92502-0489, or call (909) 688-9221. For more information on ROOTGUARD technology, contact Dr. Pete Van Voris at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, P.O. Box 999, Richland, WA 99352, (509) 375-2498.

Tags: Energy

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