A trial by Amey and Nomix Enviro in Gloucester has shown that up to two hours of operator time a day can be saved using a droplet herbicide-application system.
The trial, which started in April, split the city in half. In one half weeds were sprayed with conventional methods of herbicide application such as knapsacks, while Nomix Total Droplet Control (TDC) was used in the other.
Nomix, a division of Frontier Agriculture, claims the system uses fewer chemicals for a good result because the nozzles aim the herbicide more accurately, while the formulations help droplets to stick to leaves and penetrate their waxy surface, allowing the herbicide to get to work quickly and limiting the risk of it being washed off by rain.
To see whether this was true, Amey looked at the quality of existing weed control, the length of control, fuel used and operator hours, along with the quantity and cost of the herbicides. Full spray records were kept, including weather conditions and obstructions.
The trial used the Nomix Genesis TDC quad bike and KSU road sweeper-mounted system to apply the TDC herbicides, with a hand lance used for harder-to-access areas such as alleyways.
Amey bid director Ian Edser presented the findings at the Amenity Forum conference. Final trial results are being compiled but interim findings show the Nomix TDC vehicle-mounted system saves more than two hours per day in operator hours compared with a conventional quad bike sprayer.
"We're still gathering data but we're noticing significant time and fuel efficiencies," Edser added. "Operatives don't have to spend time returning to the depot and we've also received fewer complaints in the city."
Amey also approves of the more targeted application system because it reduces risk to both human health and the environment.
A Nomix representative said: "With increasing pressure on the amenity industry to follow best practice and reduce risks from herbicide use, this trial is an encouraging demonstration of what can be achieved."
Amey success Ministry of Justice contract
Amey has secured the total facilities management contract for the Ministry of Justice's custodial estates across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside as well as the East Midlands, West Midlands and Wales.
The five-year contract has the option of a two-year extension and will see Amey delivering two of four lots including grounds maintenance. The total value of all four lots is £500m.
Amey chief executive Mel Ewell said: "By drawing on our expertise and by developing partnerships with local suppliers, we are able to provide a tailored service that supports the ministry in achieving safe, secure and enhanced estates."