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08 Dec 2023 < Back

Navigating the Knotweed challenge: Innovations in invasive species management

Japanese knotweed is often the poster child for invasive non-native species and is often portrayed (wrongly) as terrifying as the narrative tension in Simon Clark's novel "Night of the Triffids"! Battling this invasive invader for the many homeowners I've encountered can be exhausting. But are we seeing a shift in the tide? Could we see the literal sap being sucked out of Japanese knotweed infestations?

Encouraging approaches

At our recent International Invasive Weed Conference, we heard about many promising remediation strategies with presentations from Soilwise, Railscape and others, who showcased exciting approaches. And more recently, we saw the sap-sucking insect Aphalara itadori grabbing the headlines. Previously unsuccessful in UK winter climates, a 2019 study introduced a new variant from North Japan to combat Bohemian Knotweed, yielding tentative, but positive results.

While the concept of managing one invasive non-native species by introducing another might seem counterintuitive, the team at CABI is acutely aware of the devastating impacts invasive species have on the UK environment, as revealed in their July 2023 study.

Looking ahead...

As an industry, we must embrace innovative ideas to progress, avoiding stagnation and over-reliance on glyphosate-based remediation strategies. Yet "going green" for the sake of it has pitfalls; many seemingly eco-friendly ideas can have larger environmental impacts, acting as a false economy.

So are Psyllids the solution? Are herbicides the pinnacle of control? Or is the future in integrated weed management strategies? Whilst a crystal ball would be fantastic, we must not loosen our grip on invasive species management as we await sustainable alternatives...

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