A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Kevin Brown, BCCD, Ag Team Leader
We had a meeting at the Fire Hall a couple weeks ago where we talked about no till gardening, stormwater control, rain barrels, rain gardens, pollinators, and the like. At the end of the meeting, one of the attendees came up to me and had a story about a neighbor spraying their “weeds”. It reminded me of a couple stories that I had that were very similar. His story went like this: He is a farmer and he uses herbicides. He has neighbors that have various opinions on sprays. We all do. He tries to be as conscientious as he can be with what he is using. He needs a license to use them, he has to go through training, and he knows any herbicide he is using as well as anyone can. He has a neighbor that is anti-Roundup to the max. Some people are. Is it media or facts? I don’t know, and it is not the reason for the article. For this person, sprays in general can be used, but Roundup is (insert your worst verb or pronoun here). As he was working his field one day, he witnesses his neighbor come out with their sprayer, fill it, go spray “weeds”, and come back to refill. They do this maybe 3-4 times before he decides he needs to go talk to this person. As he is asking about what they are doing, they tell him that “at least it is not Roundup!!!”. He asks to see what they are using, and how much. He informs them that the amount that they had already used probably could have done an entire field, not the little, tiny area that they had covered. The response was, “But I want it DEAD (GONE)!!!”. So, Roundup is bad, but putting 10x the amount of herbicide needed on an area is ok??? (And not the right spray for the job either) I have had the exact same conversation with other people, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share at least a couple of comments on this topic.
One- read the label (for a number of reasons). First, there are basically three kinds of herbicides- ones that are effective on broadleaves, ones for grasses, and ones that are “non-selective”. They work on anything. The person was using a broadleaf herbicide. They were spraying it on a combination of grasses and broadleaves. Guess what that does to grasses? NOTHING!!! You can spray until you are blue in the face, it ain’t workin. Know what you are going after and use the correct product.
Second- use the labeled rate. Trust me, chemical companies want it to work also. It doesn’t do their name any good to sell a product that doesn’t work. If you put on the amount you are supposed to, they “Will be DEAD!”.
Two- think about this. One day I thought to myself, “when a farmer uses this, they run across the field pretty fast and they barely leave a mist on each plant”. They use like 15 gallon/acre total. That is really light. I thought, “If they get away with that little, why am I soaking this plant down until it is dripping?”. I thought, “I wonder if I just lightly spray it, will it work?”. So, I did. I was actually in the middle of a flower bed. I was spraying the plants I didn’t want there, in between the flowers that I did want. Yes, you can do that. As a matter of fact, just the other day I hit a plant that I didn’t mean to spray. I went to the house and got a bucket of water and poured over the flower, to wash the spray off, and it is doing just fine. Anyway, so I just started giving the weeds a little “psst” of spray. That’s it. Psst, psst, psst over every weed I didn’t want. Guess what? They all died. Unless you are dealing with some real powerhouses of weeds (not many around), that is all it takes- just a quick squirt.
It is easy to blame the guy that is spraying a 15 acre field for using too much, but there are a lot of folks out there that are using as much spray on their 400 square feet piece of land as he is using on 653,400 square feet.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District