CuTex - Copper Composite Root Barrier

CuTex is a permeable geocomposite root barrier consisting of a copper sheet mechanically encapsulated between a woven polypropylene geotextile and a high strength nonwoven polypropylene geotextile. Cutex functions not only as a physical barrier, but also as a chemical barrier.

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Copper Composite Root Barrier for the control of invasive plant species

CuTex is a permeable geocomposite root barrier system consisting of a specially formulated copper sheet mechanically encapsulated between two high strength geotextiles. CuTex acts by safely releasing Cu2+ ions to inhibit root growth. The copper ions create a localised zone of inhibition which when approached by root tips causes them to undergo a progressive collapse.

The copper acts as a signal layer that all plants avert their growth from. CuTex only releases minute quantities of the copper ion and is a safe, yet effective root growth blocking material.

CuTex can provide direct protection from invasive weeds and plants. Particularly the risk posed by Japanese Knotweed to environments such as utilities’ infrastructures and foundations, across a wide range of industries including construction, highways, rail and water.

CuTex functions not only as a physical barrier, incorporating strong and durable geotextiles, but also as a chemical barrier. It acts by releasing Cu2+ ions into solution. Confocal laserscanning microscopy and differential contrast interference microscopy was used to analyse the morphology of root tips grown in the presence and absence of CuTex. The results demonstrated that when root tips approach the zone of inhibition they undergo a progressive collapse. The dividing cells at the very tip of the root (the meristem) die off and the cells above the meristem differentiate.

The localised copper toxicology only affects the root exposed to the zone of inhibition making CuTex a safe and effective material for blocking root growth. Over time CuTex releases Cu2+ ions into the soil creating an effective chemical barrier.

Cutex has been independently tested by The Centre for Plant Science at the University of Leeds; the research verified Cutex as a safe and effective barrier for Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species.

Soil layers binded together by the roots (left) vs sample where CuTex was used: roots were confined in the top layer (right).
Soil layers binded together by the roots (left) vs sample where CuTex was used: roots were confined in the top layer (right).
Japanese Knotweed

Although Japanese Knotweed is considered to be the most aggressive of invasive plant species, other plants are also grouped within this category: the legislation views these with the same level of importance.

Japanese knotweed affects both natural and artificial habitats: it is particularly well suited to riparian areas, which allows the dispersal of fragments of the plant downstream where new colonies can also form. It is also found colonising man-made habitats such as roadsides, railways and brownfield land.

The plant is primarily spread through rhizome fragments that even when less than 1g in weight could potentially form a new knotweed colony. As well as movement in water, the plant can be dispersed through garden waste, fly-tipping and machine at construction sites. In established colonies, the rhizome can extend up to 7m, while plants are typically 2-3m in height with mature leaves up to 120mm in length.

The large size of the plant results in a significant visual impact on the environment where it occurs. It also can present considerable damage to the affected area: Japanese knotweeds stout rhizomes can push through asphalt, building foundations, concrete retaining walls and even drains.

It out-competes other species which affects landscaping programs. It affects the aesthetics by accumulation of litter in dense thickets, which encourages vermin. It also increases the maintenance costs of buildings. The large infestation of non-native plants along rivers, hedges and railways can also disturb local ecosystems by blocking migration of native plants and animals, which can add huge costs to development and regeneration schemes because contaminated soil must be treated as controlled waste.

Additionally, knotweed is capable of obscuring railway signals and road signs as well as causing trip hazards in paving. Hence, Japanese Knotweed can cause excessive costs for remediation, prosecution and/or compensation claims, especially from neighbouring sites, physical damage to buildings and hard surfaces and harm to the environment (through the repeated applications of herbicides).

Consequently, legislation exists to prohibit its further spread. For example, in the UK it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild or to spread under the UK Wildlife and Countryside act 1981. Under the UK Environmental Protection Act 1990, Knotweed plant material is also classified as controlled waste.

It is not illegal to have Japanese Knotweed on your land; however, legislation requires that you:

  • Prevent invasive non-native plants on your land from spreading into the wild and causing a nuisance
  • Prevent harmful weeds on your land from spreading on to a neighbour’s property

You can be fined up to £5,000 or be sent to prison for up to 2 years if you allow contaminated soil or plant material from any waste you transfer to spread into the wild.

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