The potential impact of vegetation management herbicides has been studied almost as long as they have been used. The environment is always an essential element to account for when managing vegetation. Using management tools such as mowing, herbicides, biological or a combination of methods all can have an effect on surrounding ecosystems. There are numerous studies that examine the different management methods as they relate to environmental impact.
Maintaining the biodiversity of the landscape has been an increasing concern for vegetation managers over the past few decades. It’s the main driver for habitat managers looking to remove invasive species from native settings. Lessons learned in those programs can be applied to all manners of vegetation control. No matter how you look at it, vegetation management is best executed when three goals are met: safety for workers, reliability of infrastructure and maintaining a healthy, biodiverse area.
The need for biodiversity isn’t new — and neither is the research that’s been conducted to determine the best way to make it happen.
Biodiversity is nothing more than a technical term for a simple concept — allow native plant and wildlife habitats to thrive. Enhancing biodiversity in a region means improving an area’s wildlife and plant habitat by controlling unwanted vegetation. And herbicides can play a key role in achieving this. Combined with other management methods, selective herbicides often promote a native prairie-type ground cover that not only discourages woody plant infestations but also improves wildlife habitat.
This isn’t just an opinion. It’s backed by more than 60 years of scientific research.
In 1953, a group of inquisitive researchers hiked out to one of Pennsylvania Electric Co.’s transmission lines, set up some instruments and began to measure the effects of vegetation management on wildlife.
Now, more than 60 years later, the research of these dedicated Purdue University scientists continues, with some of the industry’s most useful information being gathered from the Game Lands 33 research site. The researchers’ names — Drs. William Bramble and William Byrnes — have become synonymous with the term “biodiversity.”
We take this work — and its stewardship responsibility — seriously. To satisfy the needs of our growing world population, we focus on discovery and development of greener and more sustainable solutions, further developing our capability in targeted delivery systems and fully meeting our compliance obligations. Participation in the Responsible Care® program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a voluntary initiative to safely handle our products from inception in the lab through disposal.
Product delivery systems such as Continuum® Prescription Control & Container Management System give added environmental benefits to users. In addition, Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, has local territory managers available to help vegetation management programs run smoothly and efficiently.
There are a number of things that should be done prior to spraying to help ensure a successful herbicide application.
Read the label: It provides approved use sites, specific directions and restrictions about the use of the product and treatments. It also lists what personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear and gives first-aid instructions. All labels for products from Corteva Agriscience have been approved by the EPA.
Know the site and conditions: Survey the application site and adjacent areas to identify target species, susceptible crops or nontarget plants in and around the site. Also, most herbicides cannot be applied directly into water (only aquatically registered products can be used in water, and state regulations apply to their use). Corteva Agriscience provides numerous herbicide options that can be used in and around aquatic sites.
Know the weather forecast and monitor conditions: Be sure to account for wind speed and direction; rainfall, predicted timing and amount; relative humidity; and air temperature.
Much of what you need to use any given herbicide responsibly is on the product label. You’ll find information on PPE, weeds controlled, how to properly mix herbicide solutions, disposal and storage instructions, and much more.
The herbicide label also will outline any special use precautions that need to be taken. For example, Milestone® specialty herbicide has language on the label that informs users that “manure and urine from animals consuming treated grass or hay may contain enough active ingredient to cause injury to sensitive broadleaf plants.” A user who didn’t read the label may see desirable plant injury when using manure from animals that have fed on grass or hay treated with Milestone specialty herbicide within the previous three days.
More information on using manure and treated compost or hay can be found below under Aminopyralid Stewardship.
Another example is found in the label for Milestone specialty herbicide. Spray drift can be lessened, “by keeping the spray boom as low as possible; by applying 10 gallons or more of spray per acre; by keeping the operating spray pressures at the manufacturer’s specific minimum pressures and by spraying when the wind velocity is low.”
Although the label is the law, accidents do happen, and you need to minimize your chance for exposure. Having a spill plan in place can make a big difference in how it affects the environment. An important part of this plan needs to include contacting the manufacturer in case of an emergency. For Corteva Agriscience, the number is 800-992-5994.
The most common ways that herbicides injure off-target plants are spray drift and herbicide volatility. Spray drift is the physical movement of airborne spray particles during the application that never settle on the target vegetation. Volatility is the tendency of a chemical to vaporize into the atmosphere from a treated surface even after it has been deposited on the target.
Spray drift is affected by a number of factors: nozzle type, application volume, wind speed and adjuvants, to name a few. To minimize herbicide drift, it’s recommended that droplets be larger than 400 microns, as smaller droplets can be easily carried off-site. Obviously high wind speeds increase the likelihood of drift; however, when wind speed is less than 2 miles per hour, wind direction is highly variable and can change direction suddenly. That’s why Corteva Agriscience always recommends a wind speed range for optimum spray deposition. And remember, off-target damage potential increases when wind blows toward susceptible crops. Some states have state regulations for proper wind speeds during applications.
Herbicide volatility varies by product and can occur with applications on any surface, but it increases on impervious surfaces like rocks and pavement. The main climatic situation where volatility occurs is during periods of high temperatures and low humidity, and calm conditions can contribute to volatility. While drift can occur with any herbicide, Corteva Agriscience offers many products that are classified as essentially nonvolatile, the lowest classification utilized by the EPA to describe the volatility potential of a herbicide.
If you utilize a herbicide from Corteva Agriscience containing aminopyralid, there are certain use precautions and restrictions of which you should be aware, so please review the information below.
Corteva Agriscience is committed to responsible stewardship of products throughout the life cycle. If you have further questions concerning aminopyralid use, restrictions or products, please contact us.
If you intend to sell or distribute hay grown in the field treated with an aminopyralid product, you must inform the recipient of the hay about the use precautions and restrictions.
Label precautions apply to forage treated with Chaparral or GrazonNext HL and to manure from animals that have consumed treated forage within the last three days. Consult the label for full details.
™®Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. When treating areas in and around roadside or utility rights-of-way that are or will be grazed, hayed or planted to forage, important label precautions apply regarding harvesting hay from treated sites, using manure from animals grazing on treated areas or rotating the treated area to sensitive crops. See the product label for details. State restrictions on the sale and use of Capstone, Milestone and Opensight apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Chaparral and GrazonNext HL 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.