Weed management on playgrounds, parks and lawns with out herbicides
Grass surfaces require a number of upkeep, particularly in excessive visitors areas. (Photograph by Jason Henderson, CC BY-ND)
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Turfgrass covers greater than 40 million acres on the American continent, together with lawns, parks, business landscapes, sports activities fields and golf programs. It’s the largest irrigated crop within the nation.
Turfs are grass species with qualities that make them nicely suited to those makes use of. They tolerate frequent clipping, resist heavy visitors and type dense and uniform surfaces. They create locations to play sports activities or calm down outdoor; cut back soil erosion; Scale back mud and dust issues round houses, colleges and companies and create clear strains of imaginative and prescient alongside highways.
Nevertheless, the turf business is usually criticized for utilizing giant portions of water, fertilizer and pesticides. Pesticides are below intense scrutiny as potential well being dangers improve.
In lots of locations, pesticide laws has progressed sooner than various strategies of pest management. As a researcher specializing in turf and soil science, I’m fascinated with new choices and have developed a very new methodology and power for turf administration that kills weeds with out the appliance of chemical compounds.
Weedbine handled mechanically with weedbine (left) and untreated (proper). (Photograph by Jason Henderson, CC BY-ND)
Herbicides and well being
People use important portions of herbicides on non-agricultural land reminiscent of lawns, gardens, golf programs, sports activities fields and public parks. In 2012, these makes use of accounted for 54 million kilos of herbicide energetic ingredient, that’s, the weed management portion of herbicides.
Considerations in regards to the potential well being results of pesticides have been well-known in recent times. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Canadian Pediatric Society and different well being organizations suggest limiting youngsters's publicity to pesticides in utero and after start.
In keeping with these consultants, youngsters are essentially the most susceptible to low doses of pesticides as a result of they develop and develop quickly and devour extra meals and fluid per kilogram of physique weight than adults. Additionally they have extra frequent contact with the soil on the skin and indoor soils and usually tend to ingest residues throughout frequent hand to mouth actions.
In response, Connecticut has banned the usage of garden care pesticides in private and non-private pre-kindergarten college yards to grade eight colleges. New York State banned the usage of pesticides in colleges, daycares and sports activities fields till Grade 12. Many US municipalities have banned the usage of pesticides in parks, inexperienced areas and public rights-of-way.
Internationally, eight of Canada's 10 provinces have restricted the usage of "beauty" pesticides. Many cities, states, and nations world wide prohibit or prohibit the sale of glyphosate merchandise in response to lingering issues in regards to the well being results of this broadly used herbicide.
Some communities weed parks by hand as an alternative choice to herbicides, however this technique is dear and doesn’t at all times work.
Different weed remedy
Merely mowing correctly, on the applicable peak and frequency, to forestall many weeds from establishing and competing with fascinating weeds. However some species persist, together with dandelion, clover and plantain, irritating skilled garden homeowners and managers, particularly those that select to not use pesticides or are legally prohibited from utilizing them.
Weed management in turf shouldn’t be restricted to aesthetics, particularly on sports activities fields. Weeds don’t tolerate foot visitors and turf. They die first on very busy surfaces reminiscent of sports activities fields, leaving naked areas in busy areas. As vegetation cowl decreases, surfaces turn into tougher, rising the chance of damage to athletes. In garden areas, voids left the place weeds die are susceptible to elevated floor runoff and soil erosion.
Present strategies of weed management with out pesticides are very restricted, largely ineffective and expensive, or have undesirable unwanted side effects. For instance, iron-based various herbicides can considerably – though quickly – darken turf, which is an issue in environments reminiscent of lawns, gardens and parks. Repeated functions are additionally typically required.
In our analysis, we discovered that aggressive overseeding – the appliance of grass seeds at a excessive charge on an present area – is the simplest technique to considerably cut back weeds on sports activities fields. However this strategy shouldn’t be very efficient for well-established mature weeds, and its effectiveness is minimal within the low-traffic areas of the enjoying area.
Grass weeds are broken sooner than the grass, main to reveal areas and soil compaction and may improve the chance of damage to athletes. (Photograph by Gina Henderson, CC BY-ND)
A brand new strategy
As an alternative of slicing the grass with rotating blades like a mower, the machine that I develop, the Weedbine, pulls the grass and weeds by means of a sieve-like steel machine. Turf has skinny, resilient limbs, however broadleaf weeds have bigger, thicker leaves which can be both torn off or severely broken by the passage of the machine. As soon as the leaf tissue of a weed is broken, it has little or no potential to soak up solar vitality and produce carbohydrates.
Weedbine bodily damages the leaves of broadleaf weeds, stopping vegetation from photosynthesizing and creating.
Weedbine is designed for use recurrently – for instance, as soon as every week, earlier than or concurrently lawns. It will make sure that as quickly because the broken weeds produce a brand new leaf tissue, it will likely be broken or eliminated once more throughout one other cycle of remedy. Weeds should due to this fact frequently depend on the carbohydrate reserves of their root system for regrowth, ultimately depleting these reserves and dying.
Weekly use of Weedbine instantly reduces weed cowl, however extra mature weeds will get better week after week. Many components have an effect on the time required to acquire management, together with turf high quality, soil high quality, weed species, and maturity and density.
The outcomes present that the selective mechanical management of weeds could be very efficient when it’s used as soon as every week for frequent grass weeds reminiscent of dandelion, in addition to for weeds historically tough to manage such because the clover and earthy ivy. Many householders and gardeners are already mowing routinely and may simply be educated to make use of a weedbine.
As we transfer towards commercialization, we’re on the lookout for methods to combine Weedbine with a lawnmower to fulfill the wants garden managers and householders. Our purpose is to offer efficient and dependable management of weeds to individuals who select to not use herbicides, who’re legally prohibited from utilizing them or who want to develop their present methods to attenuate the chance of illness. use of pesticides.