Malling reports on weed project

Integrated vegetation management is the future of amenity weed control on hard surfaces and could be key to reducing pesticides use, according to East Malling Research's Dr Neil Hipps.

The use of good design to ensure that weeds can not easily take hold and non-herbicide techniques such as brushing, flaming and steaming can help achieve good standards.

Hipps shared results of a pan-European project into weed control during the Amenity Forum conference last week. He said pressures on amenity weed control techniques need to be addressed.

Hipps added that integrated vegetation control should be cost effective, labour efficient and environmentally sensitive. He said: "Design and maintenance should be key factors. It doesn't exclude the use of chemicals - it is about the appropriate use of those chemicals and how they can be incorporated with other techniques."

Examining what level of weed growth might be acceptable could also form part of an integrated approach to weed control. "Rather than having a set scheme of spraying just because it's a particular time of year, it should be triggered by need to apply the control system. We need to think about the amount of weed we are prepared to accept."

Hipps said that in Denmark, one approach is to use a quadrat to measure accurately the amount of weed in an area. In the Netherlands a similar approach is taken, using a visual classification system.

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