Undesirable plants can cause a variety of issues throughout roadside rights-of-way. Vegetation exceeding heights of 30 inches can reduce the hydraulic capacity of roadside ditches and present hazards in vehicle recovery areas. Similarly, brush species near the edge of a right-of-way (ROW) can interfere with sight distance and impede the development of native plant communities that represent biodiverse habitat for pollinators and other wildlife species. While roadside vegetation managers work to support the development of beneficial grasses and forbs in these areas to prevent future issues caused by incompatible weeds and brush species, roadways and gravel shoulders represent areas where total vegetation control (TVC) is essential.
Effectively maintaining bareground results in this vegetation-free zone is essential for departments of transportation and their contract partners. That’s because the presence of plants in this area can jeopardize the integrity of roadway infrastructure and generate recurring treatment requirements that can deplete annual resources.
Bareground herbicide applications can effectively control undesirable plants on roadways and gravel shoulders. As a result, this chemical-based strategy can reduce re-treatment costs, protect transportation infrastructure and increase productivity for roadside vegetation management professionals, who are often asked to do more with less each year.
The following guidelines can help professionals make the most of herbicide treatments and enhance results for total vegetation control programs:
- Know When to Apply
Herbicide treatments can help vegetation managers achieve bareground results during three integral times of the year. While preemergence applications are recommended from late winter to early spring, postemergence herbicide treatments can be applied in the spring after weeds start growing.
Cooler temperatures in the fall also can stimulate the emergence and germination of winter annuals. This makes fall-timed TVC treatments an effective approach to establishing preemergence barriers, enhancing control of lingering summer annuals and perennials, balancing applicator workloads, and reducing exposure to crops or other sensitive areas.
The use of ground equipment featuring standard commercial sprayers and nozzles designed to deliver a recommended spray pressure and volume is suitable for most applications. Otherwise, backpack sprayers also can be used to complete postemergence spot treatments.
- Don’t Settle for Second-rate Products
Less-effective herbicides may allow vegetation managers to treat at a lower cost per acre or road mile, but these options tend to offer shorter treatment cycles. Since the use of second-rate products often lead to additional maintenance requirements that increase skilled labor needs, TVC programs should consider the benefits of using top-tier chemistries.
For example, Piper® EZ herbicide is a new suspension concentrate liquid formulation offered by Corteva Agriscience that serves as an excellent tool for TVC along roadways and other noncrop sites. At a use rate of 16 to 20 ounces per acre, Piper EZ herbicide can be used to maintain activity on EPSP synthase-resistant weeds, such as glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass.
Thanks to a formulation featuring two active ingredients, Piper EZ herbicide can help roadside vegetation managers knock back undesirable plant species and prevent the emergence of germinating seedlings throughout the growing season. This refined activity can deliver results and cost savings, rivaled by few products on the market, further emphasizing the important role product selection plays in a program’s success.
- Combat Weed Resistance
Over time, plants targeted with herbicide applications are likely to show signs of herbicide tolerance. Simply using more product to effectively control undesirable vegetation may seem like a good idea — but industry professionals are wise to resist the temptation. Any vegetation that survives treatments at increased use rates will produce equally resistant plants, which is destined to increase maintenance costs from one treatment cycle to the next.
Instead, vegetation managers should rotate new chemistries or tank mix different active ingredients into their planned treatment cycles. Doing so can help applicators maintain effective control of incompatible vegetation, combat weed resistance, and reduce the amount of herbicide used each year. As a result, this continuous rotation of herbicide tank mixes can introduce new modes of action that strengthen the efficacy and cost efficiency of roadside TVC programs.
For instance, Piper EZ herbicide can provide preemergence control of select grasses and broadleaf weeds. However, the addition of tank-mix partners, such as TerraVue® herbicide from Corteva Agriscience, can broaden the spectrum of control after weeds emerge early in the year, resulting in postemergence activity that optimizes year-round results.
In addition to impacting your ability to maintain lower application use rates, the products and treatment options you use can significantly influence the efficacy and cost efficiency of your TVC program. Using these best management practices to achieve bareground results also can increase your operational freedom, which allows you to prioritize work and resources for at-risk sites or other programmatic needs.
To learn more about industry-leading products and TVC strategies that help vegetation managers deliver long-lasting results, enhance safety and improve cost efficiency, visit BetterBareground.com.
Piper® is a trademark of Valent U.S.A. LLC. Piper® EZ is not registered for sale or use in all states. Under normal field conditions, TerraVue® is nonvolatile. TerraVue has 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 TerraVue and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. TerraVue is 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. Consult the label for full details. Always read and follow label directions.