While mechanical methods of brush control may deliver quick results, land managers who conduct a cost-benefit analysis of mechanical control have found that incorporating herbicide applications into an integrated vegetation management (IVM) program can pay dividends with effective, long-term brush control. Spending less time controlling vegetation can lead to fuel and labor cost savings, and frees crews to complete other vital maintenance projects.
Efficiency and Cost Savings
Billy Moye, southern manager for Progressive Solutions, a national vegetation management company, says adding herbicides to an IVM program is one of the most effective ways to extend the interval between control measures.
“Hand cutting encourages new growth to sprout back,” he explains. “In no time, you’ll find 10 sprouts on a freshly cut tree stump. When you remove a tree with an effective herbicide, it won’t sprout back.”
He says strategic herbicide use is a long-term investment that will deliver significant cost savings over time. “A quality herbicide program can add years to a treatment cycle, substantially reducing equipment and labor costs. Plus, unlike mowing or cutting, there’s no biomass to remove, saving on transportation and dumping fees.”
John Boyd, extension weed science professor with the University of Arkansas, has been working with DuPont™ Streamline® and Viewpoint® herbicides for four years. “When evaluating brush control treatments, what really counts are the results a year after treatment. With these products, we’re seeing 90 percent or better control after one year. That’s excellent, especially on sites where we’ve treated brush that’s a mixture of ages and sizes.”
Boyd adds that Streamline® and Viewpoint® feature low use rates, which adds to their efficiency in aerial or remote applications. “Unlike other products that call for gallons or pounds per acre, Streamline® and Viewpoint® are measured in ounces per acre. Crews working out of helicopters or in remote locations can carry a small amount and cover a lot of acres.”
Crew Safety and Environmental Impact
Protecting crew safety is a chief concern for land managers, says Boyd, who has experience with utility and roadside brush control.
“Anytime you have crews working with axes, sling blades and chainsaws, safety is a top priority. Herbicides reduce some of those equipment use risks,” he says. The same is true along roadsides.
“Spraying can take less time than mowing and the results are longer-lasting, reducing the amount of time crews are exposed to traffic risks.”
Moye adds that mowing is an equipment-intensive task that burns fuel and increases emissions. “If you can replace mowing with low-volume herbicide backpack applications, the only thing your crews will leave behind are their footprints.”