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12 Apr 2024 < Back

Early Japanese Knotweed growth: Are you prepared?

As temperatures rise and the first signs of Japanese knotweed emerge, members of the Property Care Association (PCA) in the Invasive Weed Control industry must gear up for what could be another intense season. The recent warm and wet weather across the UK has provided the perfect environment for Japanese knotweed to flourish, with reports of its distinctive red stems spotted in February. While early growth may not be cause for celebration, especially for us Southerners, it presents a valuable opportunity for proactive measures to ensure readiness and efficiency in the upcoming busy season.

What to consider

For contractors in the industry, this early growth signals the need for readiness on multiple fronts. Firstly, it's an opportunity to ensure that spray equipment is thoroughly checked and calibrated, ready for efficient and effective use in weed spraying operations. Despite the common complaint about traditional calibration not accurately representing spraying a 3D object like Japanese Knotweed, it's crucial to fulfil our legal duties.

Secondly, it provides us with an opportunity to conduct last-minute reviews of our health and safety forms. Are our Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessments up to date with the Ministerially Approved Pesticide Product (MAPP) numbers? Do they outline the need for any specific Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)? Or, more importantly, have they highlighted how we will deal with waste containers or leftover herbicide in sprayers?

Thirdly, are you up-to-date with the latest legislation changes? Several plants have now been transferred from the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, across onto the Invasive Alien Species Order 2019, but what does that mean and how does that affect our businesses and clients?

Finally, is there an opportunity for any last-minute learning before we're engulfed in our busy period? Online training courses from the PCA allow for home learning, or is there an opportunity to sit down with your team and map out the expectations of the season ahead? From sprayers to cutting tools, PPE to Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS), ensuring all cogs are well-oiled in a busy business is essential for seamless operations.

In summary

It's vital for contractors to seize this early growth as a chance to fine-tune their operations. Beyond equipment checks and health and safety reviews, it's an opportunity to assess staffing needs, refine communication procedures with clients, and explore new techniques or technologies that could enhance efficiency. Additionally, proactive engagement with legislative updates and industry trends can ensure compliance and maintain a competitive edge. By embracing these preparatory measures, contractors can navigate the upcoming season with confidence and effectiveness, ultimately contributing to the successful management of invasive non-native plants.

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