Weeds in pavements are clearly a trip hazard, likely to damage the paving and can collect litter and dust that poses a fire hazard and invites vermin. The local population loses pride in the area and the following downward spiral often ends in graffiti and vandalism.
In sports turf it is the playability that is at stake. If the playing surface is in a poor condition, user expectation will be dented. There may be accidents and claims for compensation. Players may go elsewhere for their sport — with a resulting loss of income.
What to consider
The first thing to consider when choosing herbicide or pesticide products is: know your target. That may sound simple — it’s easy to tell the difference between dandelions and clover — but when it comes to giving an accurate ID of some of the fungal diseases it may not be so straightforward. Without an accurate diagnosis of the problem, you can’t find the right cure.
It is totally irresponsible — to the environment, the spray operative, people passing by and the rest of the industry which is using chemicals correctly in an attempt to safeguard those products in the future — to splash any old fungicide around in the hope it will control the disease. It’s also a waste of money.
Get the problem identified, even if that means calling in an expert or the services of a laboratory. Many diseases have similar symptoms. It may not be a disease at all — perhaps it is a nutritional or water management problem? Only when you know exactly what you are facing can the problem be tackled.
What else can be used?
Given that we have an ever-shrinking choice of chemical products, your next question should be whether there is anything you could use instead. In order to safeguard products for the future, they must be used wisely. If it is not necessary to use a chemical, don’t.
Look at the problem closely. Look at the level of infestation and the problems it is causing. If it is only a few weeds in a border or in a football pitch, consider weeding them out by hand. In some situations the weeds or insects may be doing no harm and can be left.
Next, check your records. Have you encountered the problem before? If so, how was it dealt with then and what was the outcome? Only where the infestation is larger, having an impact on the function and/or safety of a facility, where it is likely to spread or is causing economic problems, and where it can’t be tackled by other means such as cultural practices, should you consider using chemicals. And even then, you must look to use the least hazardous product.
It is a legal requirement to keep records. What’s more, that information will be invaluable in the future should the problem — or a similar one — occur again. You should note the date the problem appeared and the symptoms that were present, along with the amount of infestation. You must log the decision process that brought you to the solution you used, details of the products applied and the rates, who applied them, which applicator was used and the results of the application.
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