A picture of a tractor harvesting a crop field

This Ag-Tech Startup Kept Digging, and Found an Electrifying Idea To Zap Weeds and Soil Pests

October 2, 2023 | Source: Geek Wire | by Lisa Stiffler

Initially the goal was to keep the wriggling worms alive, to use a jolt of electricity to stimulate their nerve cells in the pursuit of scientific discovery. But the research device was malfunctioning and killing the nematodes outright.

Electrical engineer and entrepreneur Jason Crisp fixed the machine, nipping some stray voltage that was causing electrocutions. The worms lived. Done and done.

Except it wasn’t.

Crisp began wondering about useful applications of that electricity to target soil nematodes that can damage valuable crops and vegetation.

That spurred the idea for what is now Lisi Global, a Richland, Wash., startup that replaces chemical pesticides with devices that zap soil pests with a jolt akin to a controlled lightning strike.

For a decade, the company has doggedly kept at its goal, finding creative solutions to hardware challenges and quickly pivoting to seize new opportunities. Now Lisi is getting traction with two field tests this fall and admission into Calgary’s Creative Destruction Lab accelerator.

“Every step we’ve made has been a step forward. And everything we’ve tried has worked,” said Jeffery McComb, co-founder and chief operating officer. “And where it has fallen short, we have found what we needed to improve it.”