Natural Herbicides

Mission: To optimize and promote natural alternatives to highly toxic chemical herbicides on Georgia Tech’s campus and in the surrounding community

The Plan: A combination of concentrated vinegar and d-Limonene has demonstrated high potential as a natural herbicidal solution, and we plan to experiment with different vinegar to d-Limonene ratios and dilutions of this solution. We also want to test out the usefulness of adding different adjuvants such as surfactants and emulsifiers to enhance the performance of the solution. We are planning to establish our Fall 2015 greenhouse experiment with a two by four factorial design (testing two different levels of adjuvant use — 5% adjuvant and 0% adjuvant — and four different ratios of vinegar to d-Limonene). We also seek to expand collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Landscape Services Department and small-scale organic gardeners to promote natural weed management strategies.

Why Natural Herbicides?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent market estimates, global pesticide usage approximates 5.2 billion pounds with herbicides ranking as the most widely used type of pesticide. This indicates a significant need for innovation as chemical herbicides contaminate the soil, air, and water systems that support human, animal, and plant life, generating numerable consequences. Natural herbicide solutions offer a solution to weed control without incurring health and environmental costs and qualify for use in organic agricultural production systems. As these solutions fulfill the same role as the commonly used “probably carcinogenic” chemical glyphosate of providing nonselective postemergent weed control (weed control targeting any already growing plant), the primary obstacle to their widespread adoption for both agricultural and aesthetic use is cost inhibitions. Because of this, research on how to best combine organically registered herbicidal ingredients to provide the greatest control with the least financial input is of critical importance. Natural herbicides also provide a prime opportunity to collaborate with Georgia Tech’s Landscape Services Department as the department values sustainability but has been using glyphosate to meet standards of weed control.

We are always looking to help people transition to organic weed management plans. If you garden or maintain a lawn at home, contact gracebrosofsky@gatech.edu, and we can collaborate.

 

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