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Argh! Weeds! How to manage them

Tilling the soil is one way to manage weeds. Source: smallfootprintfamily.com

As we come to the end of the dry season and welcome the rainy season in June, we can expect frequent showers of rain. Plants prefer rainwater because it is water that is chemically untreated, naturally acidic and contains traces of nitrates and organic matter.

All plants love rainwater – including weeds. Rain will not only grow your plants but grow your weeds and make them uncontrollable.

A weed can be defined as a wild plant growing where it is not wanted. It gives the cultivated plant competition by utilising water and nutrients, and even blocking out sunlight thereby limiting photosynthesis (the process by which plants make their own food).

Weeds can be classified according to their habitat (aquatic or terrestrial), lifecycle, and features (grasses, sedges and broadleaved). Managing weeds in your garden can be a challenge whether you have a small garden or a commercial plot.

The best method for controlling weeds is the use of an Integrated Weed Management System. Integrated Weed Management focuses on controlling weeds using a combination of:

Physical control—Removing weeds mechanically (mowing, mulching, tilling) or manually (pulling them out by hand).

Chemical control—Herbicides provide an easy practical solution to weeds. However, it must be used in correct application rates and using caution due to the effects of the chemical on human health and the environment. The three types of herbicides include contact, systemic and residual.

Contact herbicides kill weeds by killing their tissues at the point of application hence they require even coverage when spraying. Systemic herbicides move through the tissues of the weed and slowly kill the weed ensuring that it completely dies. Residual herbicides are usually applied to the soil to kill the roots of the weeds and their seeds.

Biological control—This involves using the weed’s natural enemies such as insects and certain bacteria and fungi to eliminate them. According to the crop being cultivated, livestock can be used in biological control by allowing them to graze on the weeds.

Cultural control—This involves practicing good agricultural practices (GAPs) such as crop rotation, management of fertilisers and soil sterilisation (covering your soil with a large black plastic before planting to trap heat and kill unwanted weeds and pathogens).

Through the use of this integrated system, you will have full control of your garden’s weeds. For more information concerning chemical control and choosing herbicides, please feel free to email me.

Send questions to rayannaboodram@hotmail.com