Latest weed control products respond to demand for efficacy over eco-credentials

Garden care companies used Glee as a launch-pad for new weedkillers after finding that gardeners want fast, efficient action rather than organic or environmentallly friendly products.

Westland launched the dual-action Resolva in a blaze of publicity. The fast-acting weedkiller contains diquat and glyphosate as chemical companies adapt to life without ingredients such as ammonium sulphamate, paraquat and dichlorophen as a result of EU restrictions. Westland marketing manager Keith Nicholson said Westland research showed there was little demand for organic weed-killing solutions: “Most consumers just want to get rid of weeds.” He added that Glee was an ideal platform for innovative new launches and said: “Resolva gives the gardener the best of both worlds. It is a fast-acting weedkiller and works to the roots. This is the first in modern times that does both jobs. It is unique within its category.” Scotts also has also seen growth in “tough weed killers”. With retail sales of ammonium sulphamate finishing by 22 November 2007, 13 amateur weedkillers will be taken off the shelves. Scotts has introduced new Roundup Tree Stump & Rootkiller — a “super concentrate” of glyphosate to replace ammonium sulphamate, which the company claims can kill Japanese knotweed. It has also introduced Advanced Mosskiller, which replaces a dichlorophen product that is no longer allowed. Monro Horticulture has also re-formulated Growing Success Deep Root with stronger glyphosate. But Bayer head of marketing Jane Lawler, launching Bayer’s Advanced 3 Hour WeedKiller made from biodegradable ingredients based on extract of palm oil, claimed glyphosate may not work as a stump killer: “If they tell you it will work then perhaps it will. But as a stump killer? Put it this way, I treated a sycamore cut down two years ago with glyphosate four or five times and it is still going strong. It is going to be difficult to get good efficacy from Roundup in its new formulation.” Scotts representative John Clowes said the new formulation would work better than the old one, with Japanese knotweed approved by the Pesticide Safety Directorate as a plant it would kill — a first for an amateur weedkiller. Lawler added: “It’s interesting to see the three major chemical suppliers have plumped for fast-acting weedkillers. They are doing a lot of consumer research. The modern consumer is looking for time-saving products. This is not for experienced, 45-plus gardeners. It is for the 47 per cent of gardeners who have never used a weedkiller. “Bayer research has found consumers don’t like organic weedkillers because they don’t think they will work. But they want to know they are not harmful. If you make it organic and sell it in a brown paper package they won’t believe it works. Organic gardeners don’t use anything. Weedkillers are incongruous and counter-intuitive to them.” She added: “We are having to think more innovatively in terms of how to approach consumer problems. We can’t just turn to old agricultural chemistry anymore. Most products are no longer suitable for gardeners.”

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