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Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 31;7:45299. doi: 10.1038/srep45299.

Experimental and numerical evaluations on palm microwave heating for Red Palm Weevil pest control.

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Physics Department "Ettore Pancini", University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
DIEI, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Cassino, Italy.
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
Plant Protection Service of Campania Region, Naples, Italy.


The invasive Red Palm Weevil is the major pest of palms. Several control methods have been applied, however concern is raised regarding the treatments that can cause significant environmental pollution. In this context the use of microwaves is particularly attractive. Microwave heating applications are increasingly proposed in the management of a wide range of agricultural and wood pests, exploiting the thermal death induced in the insects that have a thermal tolerance lower than that of the host matrices. This paper describes research aiming to combat the Red Palm pest using microwave heating systems. An electromagnetic-thermal model was developed to better control the temperature profile inside the palm tissues. In this process both electromagnetic and thermal parameters are involved, the latter being particularly critical depending on plant physiology. Their evaluation was carried out by fitting experimental data and the thermal model with few free parameters. The results obtained by the simplified model well match with both that of a commercial software 3D model and measurements on treated Phoenix canariensis palms with a ring microwave applicator. This work confirms that microwave heating is a promising, eco-compatible solution to fight the spread of weevil.

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