The method was originally developed in 1999 in the United States by Philip Burgess, who wanted to eradicate a knotweed infestation on a golf green, caused by contaminated imported top soil. He experimented with new ways of controlling the plant, as spraying would have resulted in the death of the nearby grass. The research involved numerous variable factors, such as time of year, different herbicides and injecting different parts of the plant. It was found that inserting the herbicide directly into the stem successfully prevented further growth, and caused the plant to deteriorate.
In the following years, commercial trials run by Monsanto and Washington State University took place. JK International, a company owned by Philip Burgess and holding the patent for the technology, began extensive formal trials which were independently proven successful.
Around this time, Japanese Knotweed Control (JKC) in the UK was researching better ways of controlling knotweed, and discovered the overwhelmingly positive results that were occurring Stateside from organisations trialling the injection method.
After liaising with Phil and the team at JK International, JKC trialled the method in the UK for two years, to ensure the full results were captured. The outcomes were impressive; with a great success rate and healthy, vibrant knotweed plants treated in just one growing season.
After the UK trials, the system was modified, with a holster pack developed for extra health and safety. Japanese Knotweed Control’s sister company, Stem Injection Systems, was awarded the distribution rights for the whole of Europe.
Back in 2007, there was much less awareness of knotweed. The concept of stem injection was unknown amongst the organisations and individuals already dealing with the plant, so an education process was needed. This began with the formal UK and European launch of the stem injection technology at the Cornwall Knotweed Conference, where attendees from all over the world gathered to discuss the problem of Japanese knotweed.