How Are Weeds Controlled?

Weeds can be managed using many different methods. The most effective management of weeds is usually achieved by a combination of methods termed “Integrated Weed Management”. It is vital that weeds be correctly identified before a control program is implemented. Prevention is the best method of control. If you intend to buy a property find out its’ weed history first. Here are a few other methods used to control weeds:

Plant Competition – It is important to grow vigorous plants that out-compete the weeds. A healthy pasture or crop can often suppress weed growth.

Mulching – A layer of material is placed on the ground which weeds cannot penetrate. The weed seeds are denied access to light and some are unable to germinate. Mulching also helps to preserve moisture in the soil for the plants which you do want to grow.

Burning – Burning can be used to control weeds by killing the mature weed population and stimulating soil stored weed seeds to germinate so that they can be controlled while in the more susceptible seedling stage.  Burning is used in control programs for weeds such as gore and boneseed.

Pasture And Grazing Management – Grazing at different stocking rates can be useful for  weed control. Heavy stocking rates force animals to eat the less desirable plants (but should not be used where the weed is toxic to stock). Lighter stocking rates can lead to selective grazing leaving the weedy and less palatable plants. This gives the weeds a competitive advantage allowing them to increase in density.

Physical – Small areas can be successfully managed by simple hand-pulling or chipping with a hoe.

Mechanical – A sustainable method for large areas of aquatic weeds that have access for the necessary machinery.

Chemical – There are many chemical herbicides available for the control of weeds. The herbicide label will indicate which plant species are susceptible to the chemical and the method of application which can be used. Care should be taken in the storage and handling of herbicides. The instructions on the label should always be read before use.

Biological Control – Biological control involves the use of one living species  (the agent) to control an unwanted species (the target). The aim of biological  control is to restore the natural balance between the pest and its’ environment  by the introduction of natural enemies which can help control the pest to a  level where it is no longer considered a problem.