Vegetation Management for Railways and Critical Infrastructure by Non-Herbicidal Chemicals

Sasson Yoel (Casali), HUJI, Faculty of Science, The Institute of Chemistry


Critical utilities and transportation infrastructure have demanding requirements to maintain high operational loads. It is essential that these sites will be free from encroaching vegetation which interferes with performance and safety. There are multiple approaches to prevent and remove vegetation ingrowth by using different approaches, including: chemical, thermal, mechanical and constructional means, all with different costs and levels of efficacy. Soil herbicides are a leading control method because they are quick-acting, efficient, economic and safe to apply. However, these herbicides contaminate the water table and surrounding soil.

Our Innovation

We propose an alternative universal herbicide-like aqueous spray solution of simple, inexpensive and ecologically friendly salts that non-specifically kills vegetation. Such a solution can be readily and economically applied to infrastructure (e.g. railway ballast and track-substructure) and is harmless to human health even if it penetrates underground bodies of water.



  • An innocuous treatment solution that has no negative effect on underground water sources and is environmentally-friendly.
  • The treatment remains stable and effective within the soil matrix for on the order of months and can fit with existing regular maintenance regimens.
  • Chemical inputs very competitive on a cost-basis.

The Opportunity

This technology is ideal to remove vegetation in areas with very strict regulations on herbicide-use. Initial estimates suggest that back-pack spray teams can treat approximately 10 km of railway track a day.