Many herbicides can be harmful to plants and animals when administered into the ground or near open water. For this reason, natural and organic herbicides are the best resource to avoid potential harm to the environment. Acetic acid and sodium chloride are two safe, natural agents to consider.
Applying the proper types of herbicides is crucially important to maintain safety near water. Read on to discover safe herbicides to use near water and how to administer them. This article will also explore how some herbicides can affect open water and its surroundings.
The Relationship Between Herbicides and Open Water
Open bodies of water are not just scenic and tranquil, they are also important ecosystems within an area. Once harsh or toxic chemicals are introduced to ecosystems, the natural balance of the body of water is thrown off. This is what can occur when herbicides seep into or leach into bodies of water.
Problems that arise from the use of synthetic herbicides near bodies of water are found in both the chemicals the amount applied by the user. According to the Cambridge University Press, the ways in which synthetic herbicides are administered near open water, in high volumes, and to the surrounding soil, can cause deadly effects to aquatic organisms.
Therefore, the problems with synthetic herbicides are not just seen with post-emergent herbicides, herbicides applied into the soil can also cause problems. Let’s take a look at each area around open water and how synthetic herbicides can disrupt it.
Herbicides and Surrounding Soil
Weeds can grow in abundance near open bodies of water, such as ponds, streams, or river banks. It is only natural to want the weeds removed, and herbicides are the best way to address this is the issue. When using a pre-emergent herbicide in the soil around bodies of water, the chemicals can escape into the water through a process known as leaching.
Furthermore, post-emergent herbicides can also run-off the weeds and easily flow into the body of water.
Herbicide Reactions in Water
The mechanism of action for synthetic herbicides is based on attachment to organic particles and compounds. Once the herbicides leak or leach into the water, the chemicals bind to the organic matter or organisms, causing degradation or death.
Pre-emergent herbicides that seep into the water can be even more detrimental to aquatic plant and animal life. The herbicides become concentrated in the mud found at the bottom of the water source, thereby contaminating the water source and its living matter for upward of three months.
Synthetic Herbicide Threats to Aquatic Animals
Synthetic herbicides can affect the central nervous system of a range of aquatic animals, including invertebrates and even fish. The smaller the organism is, the more potent the effect of synthetic herbicides there can be. For aquatic animals that forage through the muddy bottom of a body of water, the chemicals can be eaten.
The same concept applies to animals that eat aquatic weeds and plants. The chemicals create a transparent outer layer on the weeds, which is then ingested by animals. Since synthetic herbicides accumulate rapidly once applied, the chemical concentrations then become attached to food sources and habitats of aquatic animals.
What Chemicals in Herbicides Are Not Recommended for Use Near Water?
There are some herbicides that are approved for use near water. With this in mind, the possibility of drift and leaching are apparent, which can cause damage to other living matter in the water. The following is a list of synthetic herbicides that are not recommended for use near water:
- Glyphosate. This chemical is by far the most heavily-utilized in synthetic herbicides. Glyphosate not only kills weeds, but it also kills a wide range of aquatic plants. If you do use a synthetic herbicide containing glyphosate, it is important not to use the chemical as a pre-emergent, soil-based application. Only administer the chemical directly to the leaves of shoreline weeds.
- Imazapyr. Imazapyr is also a popular synthetic herbicide chemical. This chemical can be well-tolerated near water if it is used as a post-emergent herbicide. However, due to the potential for the chemical to seep into water and soil, this herbicide is not recommended to be used near water.
- Triclopyr Ester. This chemical could also be used as a post-emergent if there is no possibility for seepage or wind drift. Overall, the chemical is not safe to be used near water since the potency can be toxic to aquatic animals and plants.
No pre-emergent herbicides of any kind should be used near bodies of water. Leaching is almost guaranteed to occur, which would ensure that the chemicals are distributed throughout the water and mud at the bottom.
The Use of Natural and Organic Herbicides
Herbicides that use natural substances in their mechanism of action to control weeds are best near water. You generally do not have to worry about toxic chemicals disrupting the water life cycle, and utilizing natural remedies to kill weeds is a healthy alternative for the environment.
Before you consider natural herbicides, it may be helpful to survey the body of water and the type of weeds needing to be eliminated. Are the weeds necessary for supporting the life cycle of the water ecosystem? Do the weeds help to filter water or create a buffer against embankment erosion? Removing weeds is essential to supporting the life cycle of plants, yet there may be other considerations near bodies of water.
Once you have established that weed removal is necessary, consider the use of an approved herbicide for water habitats only. Natural herbicides are almost always safe and approved for water. Let’s take a look at some approved herbicides for an area near water and a corresponding natural alternative to consider.
Glyphosate can be used near water; however, the risk is too great just to assume that the chemical will not seep off of weeds and end up in the surrounding water. As an alternative, consider using a product with acetic acid. This type of acid is used in the production of chemical compounds, which means that the acid can create natural repellents towards weeds.
Acetic acid can lead to the formation of ester, which is one of the most commonly used chemicals in some synthetic herbicides, such as triclopyr ester. This means that you can get a similar reaction in terms of weed control with a wholly natural substance.
Imazapyr is another popular synthetic herbicide that is approved for use near water. Although this chemical can kill aquatic weeds, the risk is too great due to drift that can attach to non-weed plants. As an alternative, you can use a product with sodium chloride, which is a derivative of salt. Sodium chloride is toxic to the parts of a plant that contribute to photosynthesis.
The natural substance acts by interfering with the ability of a weed to process amino acids from photosynthesis. This is similar to how imazapyr interferes with the production of amino acids when applied to weeds.
Natural herbicides do not directly cause toxicity in surrounding animal life near bodies of water. The processes of organic herbicides are easily passed if aquatic animals ingest natural substances, which is not the same with synthetic herbicides. Synthetic herbicides are persistent when applied in the soil, where accumulation occurs and causes damage for weeks at a time. Using a natural alternative presents no such problems.
How Eco Garden Pro Organic Weed Killer Can Help
Now that you know that there are safe and effective natural alternatives to synthetic herbicides, it is time to select the right product. Eco Garden Solutions Organic Vinegar Weed Killer is a 100% natural and organic formulation that is also safe for people and animals.
Our herbicide works by using acetic acid and sodium chloride to destroy weeds with completely natural reactions in the plant growth cycle. Our product works fast, sometimes in as little as 24 hours comes pre-mixed and ready to use.
The fear of disrupting the ecosystem around bodies of water is eliminated with this product, and you can rest assured that you are fighting against weeds in a natural and safer way when compared to toxic, synthetic herbicides.
While there are many synthetic herbicides that are approved to be used near water, there are still risk factors when administering such harsh chemicals. Both the soil and water itself can become contaminated, with potentially lethal consequences for animal and plant life both in and near the water.
Natural and organic herbicides are much safer to use near water and do not pose any toxic effects on aquatic wildlife. Consider using products with acetic acid and sodium chloride instead of disruptive synthetic chemicals that can disrupt the ecosystem.
- Cambridge University Press: Effects of Herbicides on Water and Its Inhabitants
- IntechOpen: Water Resource Pollution by Herbicide Residues