Thursday, July 7, 2011

Herbicides in Forestry

Herbicides are an indispensable tool in silviculture. Their continued use in forest management not only improves forest productivity but does so in an environmentally sound manner. The following four statements summarize the environmental safety of silvicultural herbicides.

  1. Small amounts of forestry herbicides are used on a very small percentage of forest land, a maximum of two or three applications over a 20- to 30-year period.
  2. Forest herbicides are very low in animal toxicity, and they are significantly less toxic than most insecticides and other chemicals commonly found in the home and environment.
  3. Forest herbicides do not bioaccumulate and are quickly eliminated from animal tissue.
  4. Forestry herbicides biodegrade relatively fast after field application.
New formulations are coming out all the time that are most effective and environmentally friendly, compare to other alternatives. Strict regulations are in place governing their use and persons applying many of there products must be licensed and insured (Frederick, 2011).

Nyland (1996) considers the effects of herbicides on soils to be positive. Using herbicides to control competing vegetation reduces soil disturbance and erosion compared to site preparation with machines. Water quality usually is not affected if adequate buffer strips are maintained around perennial streams so that direct applications to streams are avoided. The boundaries of the treated area must be well-marked in the weather must be perfect. Spraying is usually done very early in the morning when conditions are most calm. Forest manager and landowners have an obligation to use this important tool properly to ensure its continued availability. The label of an herbicide is a legal document and to disregard it may result in penalties under the law. Disregarding label recommendations could also reduce application effectiviness. Chemical companies have invested considerable time and effort into developing label recommendations that maximize the effectiveness of their product.

Frederick, D. (2011). Special Topics in Silviculture (FOR507 Handout). Raleigh, North Carolina State University.
Nyland, R.D. (1996). Silviculture: concepts and applications. New York: McGraw-Hill Co., Inc. 633 pp.

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