With the start of the Grounds Maintenance season just around the corner in the UK, responsible grounds contractors such as GRITIT are investigating and testing alternatives to Glyphosate (Roundup). Although this is very much a developing scenario, there are alternatives in the marketplace that produce weed control results on a large scale.
What's the problem with Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide that is applied directly to plant foliage. When used in smaller quantities, Glyphosate can act as a plant growth regulator, and it is very much the conventional choice by many grounds maintenance companies when confronted with tough invasives such as Ponticum and Knotweed, or even weed control over a large area.
There are two main issues with Glyphosate. First and foremost, the method of application. Glyphosate does a pinpoint job when it is dabbed on a weed selectively, but you may see unaware grounds maintenance contractors using Glyphosate in a sprayer rather than dabbing it on. This of course means that it kills everything that it is sprayed on, rather than selectively, as recommended. Whilst there is no actual scientific evidence that the Glyphosate sprayed on the ground has further adverse effect on subsequent growth by staying in the ground itself, current scientific research is looking at whether Glyphosate may be transmitted through subsoil structures, for example Myceleum, which transports nutrients between plants and trees. Glyphosate is used in many sectors other than purely grounds maintenance, and some in the farming sector spray the entire field with Glyphosate before sowing. It is no surprise that Glyphosate is one of the few trace chemicals that is regularly found in the bread that we all eat.
The second issue with Glyphosate to be aware of is the health and safety of the contractors asked to use it. At GRITIT, we're fanatical about using properly maintained and services apparatus, and issuing all our operatives with the proper personal protection equipment (PPE). Protective goggles, proper gloves, closed-toe shoes, socks, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts are all sensible things our operatives use to prevent any skin contact, with a respirator or a face mask as and when circumstances warrant such a precaution. Some of the recent focus on Glyphosate came about through a recent US court case, with an allegation that Roundup causes cancer in a worker who had used it for many years.
Alternatives to Glyphosate 1 - Mossoff
MossOff Chemical-Free is a chemical-free method of killing and preventing moss and algae, recommended by our new Grounds Maintenance Director, Mark Hogan. This product is made from natural ingredients, including natural oils and starch; when sprayed on moss and allowed to dry completely it forms an invisible, biodegradable micro-coating that prevents moss from absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air causing it to die. In action, it performs like a membrane around the moss to cut off its life support.
Alternatives to Glyphosate 2 - Avenger
Avenger Organics Avenger Natural Weed Killer is a non-selective, post-emergence herbicide to kills weeds, grasses and broadleaves. The active ingredient d-limonene (citrus oil) naturally strips away the waxy plant cuticle, causing it to dehydrate and die. Avenger Weed Killer is effective, and the manufacturers claim that it is faster acting than leading synthetic herbicides. In their tests against non-organic ‘natural’ herbicides that contain vinegar (acetic acid), citric acid, clove oil or fatty acids (soap), Avenger came out as effective with quicker results.
Alternatives to Glyphosate 3 - New Way Weed Spray
New-Way Weed Spray is a natural non-selective herbicide for amenity and industrial weed control; a fast-acting, non-selective herbicide which is active against most soft tissue it comes into contact with. The product controls grasses, broad-leaved weeds and mosses and it produces discolouration and browning of the foliage within a few hours of treatment. However, New Way Weed Spray is dangerous to bees, should not be applied to crop plants when in flower or used where bees are actively foraging or when flowering weeds are. This is a herbicide authorised for professional and the end user must hold the relevant specified certificate(s).
Alternatives to Glyphosate 4 - Finaslan
Finaslan is an emulsifiable concentrate formulation containing 186.7 g/l pelargonic acid for use as a non-selective herbicide against annual and perennial weeds, mosses and algae. The pelargonic acid penetrates the waxy leaf cuticle and destroys the cell membranes. This exposes the cell contents to the elements resulting in rapid desiccation. Fast acting on young actively growing weeds, Finaslan is suitable for the control of annual and perennial weeds, moss and algae, and particularly effective on Equisetum spp. (Mare’s tail).
Alternatives to Glyphosate 5 - Foamstream
Foamstream controls unwanted vegetation by using heat in hot water, insulated by a biodegradable foam blanket. The foam stops the heat escaping to the atmosphere, keeping the heat on the plant for longer, ensuring a more effective kill. Sterilisation of surrounding seeds and spores also helps to reduce regrowth. Foamstream controls weeds on hard surfaces: playgrounds, cobbles, block paving, pavements, car parks, courtyards, gravelled areas, soft Surfaces: flower beds, water filter beds, parks, beach fronts, pond/lake edges and artificial surfaces: sports tracks, playgrounds, sports pitches (e.g. astro turf). Foamstream can also be used to clean surfaces and street furniture of unsightly dirt or droppings, such as grime, graffiti and chewing gum.
About GRITIT Grounds Maintenance
Grounds Maintenance work is an essential part of your facility service requirement, but hiring the wrong contractor can expose you to environmental and reputational risks. Talk to GRITIT about our grounds and facility maintenance services. Grounds, repairs to asphalt, site inspections, landscaping services, lawn maintenance, car park cleaning and winter services can all be a part of your all-in-one custom service package, from a contractor that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.