Invasive Weeds in Scotland
Weedfree Limited began a new contract with East Lothian Council in 2007 which as well as weed control to footpaths, hard surfaces and highway kerbs also involves the control of invasive weeds on council-owned land along the local riverside. The major problem here is Giant Hogweed, a relative of the more familiar Cow Parsley that grows alongside rural roads throughout the UK, Giant Hogweed as the name suggests grows rapidly to a great height and size, and spreads outwards overwhelming other vegetation if left unchecked. Giant Hogweed out-competes other plants, reducing biodiversity, and can also exacerbate soil erosion as its roots do not bind the soil in river banks as effectively as native grasses and shrubs. Far more worrying for human visitors even that the loss of amenity and habitat is the fact that Giant Hogweed sap is toxic, and that skin contaminated by the sap and then exposed to sunlight can be severely burned and permanently scarred. Hogweed poisoning can leave the victim with Phytophotodermatitis – a type of dermatitis that flares up in sunlight for which there is no straightforward treatment. The Weedfree team have now begun a regular programme of weed control on these sites, with the full approval of SEPA, with our operators wearing full protective gear to prevent any contact with these deadly invaders. Spraying with an appropriate herbicide is the most effective treatment option available, although it may take several years to achieve eradication.
Pond treatment at Levenhall Links, East Lothian
Leading directly from our works in East Lothian Weedfree Limited were asked to treat Spike Rush, Great Club Rush and Reed Mace in annual pond maintenance at Levenhall Links. This site is reclaimed land, built almost entirely of ash produced by a local power station. The Clay lined freshwater ponds are in a nature reserve area so environmental impact has to be negligible. Following approval from SEPA our teams moved in spraying with herbicides approved for use in aquatic environments. The bi-active herbicide is absorbed into the plants leaves immobilizing the chlorophyll, and using the plants circulatory systems spreads to the roots and stems, therefore effectively starving the plant, by interrupting photo-synthesis. Any excess spray quickly bio degrades into inert compounds having no residual effect on the sprayed areas. This enables the ranger service to fill the drained ponds within 5 days of treatment without an adverse effect on the local bio sphere.
New spraying vehicle for rural highways and urban main roads
Weedfree have made a new addition to our fleet of weed control vehicles this summer with a specially adapted spray van for applying herbicides to rural kerbs and footpaths and to difficult to reach urban road side areas such as central reservations.
The new vehicle provides a much safer alternative to application by hand or by mini tractors on roads operating at the national speed limit, giving much better visibility in traffic and better protection for the operators. The vehicle is clearly marked with warning decals and beacons in compliance with the provisions of the Road Traffic Act.
The front-mounted boom carries a set of independently operated nozzles which can be adjusted to treat a variety of targets from narrow kerbs to wide paths and retaining wall bases, ensuring that herbicides are applied accurately and effectively, with no risk to surrounding areas.
The new road vehicle has already been used successfully used to control weeds on rural roads in the East Lothian and Epping Forest council districts, and is now being offered for use to other highway authorities throughout the UK.