When it comes to managing vegetation along roadsides, drainage ditches, power lines and pipelines, mechanical mowing provides instant results for vegetation management crews and customers alike. Populations of invasive plants and noxious weeds can be cut in a matter of hours, improving roadway visibility and aesthetics in one fell swoop.
But mowing practices also allow a threat to continue lurking beneath the surface: roots. In addition to posing a threat to infrastructure and safety, the roots of incompatible plants that are left intact after mowing can lead to resprouting. Not only that, but mowing also supports seed spreading, which can lead to higher stem densities from one year to the next and increase maintenance costs.
Look to Selective Herbicide Applications
Considering the downfalls of mowing practices, roadside vegetation management teams can save valuable time and resources by integrating selective herbicide applications into their roadside programs. For Right of Way Management — which is contracted by various counties, townships and municipalities to provide vegetation control services along Indiana roadsides and other off-road sites — selective herbicides provide multiple benefits.
“Mowing can be a maintenance nightmare and is labor-intensive,” says Chadd Baker, president of Right of Way Management. “It can be up to three times more expensive than spraying herbicides, and you’re not really controlling the weeds. You’re really just cutting them off, and chances are that they’re probably going to come back. I have the equipment to mow, but it’s just not worth it.”
Environmental Considerations and Program Flexibility
Along with obstructing visibility for drivers and causing soil erosion, invasive plants and noxious weeds that develop along roadsides impede native plant development. For Right of Way Management, preserving native grasses is a desired outcome that mowing practices often struggle to achieve.
“We’re always trying to save the grass,” Baker says. “It can be extremely difficult when a customer wants to take out a hard woody plant without harming the grass at all. But that’s what we’re constantly doing, and selective herbicides help significantly.”
Responsible for the effective control of off-road vegetation along approximately 3,000 miles of infrastructure each year, Right of Way Management uses backpack sprayers and a fleet of tractors equipped with cab-controlled spray equipment to apply selective herbicides on treatment sites. Where mowing practices would wipe out all vegetation, including native plants, Right of Way Management is able to selectively treat targeted plant species through herbicide applications, leaving most grasses and beneficial forbs unharmed.
In addition to these successes, Baker values the way selective herbicides and application equipment enhance his crews’ mobility. Loading up each truck requires minimal downtime, allowing Right of Way Management teams to relocate at a moment’s notice when weather impedes their ability to spray in certain areas.
“Our customers always have deadlines, and they’re always tight,” Baker says. “Logistics is a big part of my business and ensuring I’m able to move quickly from one place to the next is important.”
It Takes Time to Save Time
Embracing strategies and resources that increase productivity is a linchpin that ensures success for Right of Way Management each year. Similar to other mechanical control methods, mowing may immediately complete the job at hand, but Baker understands the long-term implications of this management model. That’s why Right of Way Management works to control vegetation in phases.
“You can’t do it all at once,” Baker says. “It’s a multistaged process that can take several years — it’s not a one-and-done strategy.”
Taking a multistaged approach may sound labor-intensive, but it actually reduces long-term maintenance requirements for Right of Way Management and the company’s customers. Effectively controlling problematic plant species allows native grasses and other desirable vegetation to develop, forming a natural barrier against the reestablishment of incompatible plant species. As Right of Way Management customers prefer to keep grasses unharmed, the environmental results achieved through selective herbicide applications are as valuable as the economic benefits.
“I consider Right of Way Management to be the greenest brush killer out there,” Baker says. “We don’t put down product that doesn’t need to be put down and we’re saving money by using less product over time. Any time you can get the best results and use less herbicide, it’s a win-win.”
Using the Right Products for Off-road Vegetation Control
Having the right strategy and equipment in place is half the battle for Right of Way Management. Even the best strategies can yield insufficient results when the wrong products are used, which is why the company is committed to using the best solutions on the market. For years, Right of Way Management has relied on products such as Milestone® and Garlon® 3A herbicides from Corteva Agriscience to provide superior woody plant and broadleaf weed control throughout off-road environments.
An ongoing relationship with local distributor Nutrien Ag Solutions and Stacie Songer, vegetation management specialist with Corteva Agriscience, has kept Baker up to date with the latest and greatest products that can be used to address his customer’s ever-changing needs. Most recently, this support led Baker to add TerraVue® herbicide from Corteva Agriscience to his company’s off-road vegetation control program.
As an essentially nonvolatile product, TerraVue provides grass-safe brush and broadleaf weed control for approximately 20% more broadleaf weeds and brush species than Milestone. TerraVue also can be combined with a variety of other tank-mix partners to increase the woody brush spectrum for roadside vegetation managers. To date, TerraVue has provided successful results for Right of Way Management crews.
“We started using TerraVue this year,” Baker says. “It has a lot of the same make-up as Milestone and it’s done what it’s supposed to do so far.”
For Right of Way Management, the early results achieved through applications of TerraVue represent the latest chapter in the company’s success story. And, as far as Baker is concerned, his customers have a true appreciation for the company’s ongoing commitment to excellence.
“I don’t encounter many issues in the field, but my customers know that if there’s a problem, I’m going to fix it,” Baker says. “They trust me with what I use because I’ve never given them a reason not to.”
To learn more about best practices for roadside vegetation control and workshops showcasing the benefits selective herbicides provide over mowing exclusively, click here.
™ ® Trademarks of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. Under normal field conditions, TerraVue® is nonvolatile. Milestone® and TerraVue have no grazing or haying restrictions for any class of livestock, including lactating dairy cows, horses (including lactating mares) and meat animals prior to slaughter. Label precautions apply to forage treated with Milestone or TerraVue and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. Consult the label for full details. Milestone and TerraVue are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions. © 2021 Corteva.