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Using Professional Herbicides

Herbicides are an important element of effective and efficient, cost-balanced and low environmental impact Invasive weed management plans. 

This section helps PCA members and other professionals understand the core considerations required to design and implement invasive weed management strategies which comply with their various legal duties and meet the Amenity Standard benchmark for Integrated Weed Management.

Training: Safe & Sustainable Use of Herbicides >>

The role of herbicides in invasive weed control

Herbicides are chemicals which can provide targeted, effective (cost-effective) and safe management of invasive weeds.  

They may be used as the sole method of control or together with other (non-chemical) strategies so they are fairly ubiquitous within invasive weed management.  However, herbicides/chemicals are sometimes viewed as being harmful and/or damaging to people and /or wildlife (the environment as a whole).  

In this section we hope to explain the beneficial role of herbicides for controlling invasive weeds and the methods used by professional contractors to reduce to a minimum residual risks associated with their use. 

The legal framework for herbicides: amateur and professional use

For over 50 years there have been extensive legal frameworks for the placing of pesticide products on the market and this includes herbicides.  Through various legal instruments the government ensures that products are effective on target pests/weeds and safe to use both for humans and the environment. Over time, certain chemicals have been severely restricted or banned altogether, usually as new evidence comes to light regarding their impact or when better/safer alternatives become available.  This means we can be confident that those chemicals being used today have been through a long process of assessment and appraisal.  Professional contractors are also required to establish for each project an Integrated Pest/Weed Management Plan which ensures that herbicides are only used after a full review of non-chemical options (taking account of safety, efficacy, practicality, cost and environmental impact).  They also need to show how herbicide dose is optimised to achieve the desired level of control.

Herbicides and Japanese knotweed 

The majority of Japanese knotweed herbicide treatments use glyphosate as the main active ingredient.  This is based on decades of experience and academic research, especially a recent field trial which confirmed optimum methods and frequency/timings to achieve best control in the long term.  

Glyphosate has been subject to many years of intense debate regarding its safety, but in the UK, Europe and the US, glyphosate-based herbicides continue to satisfy the very highest standards of critical assessment for safety in use and to the environment.  

Glyphosate has a unique advantage for use against perennial invasive weeds like Japanese knotweed and Giant Rhubarb, Bamboo etc. which is its ability to move through the vascular system (so-called systemic herbicide) to accumulate in root structures thereby preventing, after several years, new growth emerging each year.  This unique benefit helps in the fight against the most ‘aggressive’ invasive weeds and consequently the battle to manage their damaging impact on habitats and biodiversity.

However, it should be remembered that glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide so it must always be used cautiously where there are non-target plants and especially when used on or near water (glyphosate is approved by Government for use in these situations, once a suitable permit is obtained, but application methods still need to be targeted to optimise dose and achieve accurate delivery).

Download Guidance Note >>

Japanese Knotweed Management >>

Herbicide use: best practice”

One of the PCA’s membership requirements is for the adoption of ‘best practice’ in the selection and use of pesticides/herbicides.  This ensures compliance with legal duties and can give confidence to clients regarding safe and effective applications.  But what is ‘best practice’?  Obviously, the degree of expertise varies from Technician to surveyor level but the following points relate to both:

  • The legal minimum: PA1/PA6 
  • Professional development: BASIS certification and PCA qualifications
  • CPD: life-long learning, keeping up-to-date with research, the law and technology PCA technical Document Library - establishing training programmes for all staff including assessments and certification. Amenity Standard driving technician awareness of ‘best practice’ handling and use (link to Training “safe and effective….”)
  • Integrated weed management - A legal requirement under the ‘Sustainable Use’ regulations and a core aspect of the Amenity Standard. A client and site-specific review of chemical and non-chemical management methods.  There are pros and cons for all approaches 
  • Record keeping, corrective action 
  • Complaint management (consumer satisfaction and continuous improvement)

Technical documents you can view

For those interested, there is a variety of invasive weed related 'Codes of Practice', Technical Documents, Guidance Notes and other related documents via our 'Invasive Weed Control Document Library'.  Simply click on the button below to view the library.  Documents of interest include:

  • NEW – Herbicide Treatments and Japanese knotweed – PCA Guidance Note
  • Restrictions on the Use of Herbicides on Hard Surfaces
  • Root Barrier and Japanese Knotweed Remediation
  • Waste Classification for Works in a Commercial Setting
  • UPDATED – List of Invasive Non-Native Plant Species

Visit the document library >>

FREE CPD Training videos on invasive weeds

Want to learn more about herbicides and invasive weeds

For those interested in learning more about professional herbicides, its safe use and other invasive weed courses, there is a variety of PCA training options for surveying professionals as well as technical/trade professionals. 

Use the search tool below to find available invasive weed related training courses or simply go to our training & qualifications section.  Alternatively, if you want to chat to someone, contract our training team on 01480 400 000 or contact them online.

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Professional Guidance

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More about PCA Membership 

Interested in taking part in the CPD scheme but you are not a PCA member?  Find out more about membership and why it will benefit you!

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