Herbicides are substances used to destroy weeds in a yard, garden, crop or forest. These are either chemical or organic in nature. According to the USDA, most contemporary herbicides have a low mammalian toxicity rate, but some do include free radicals that can be harmful is absorbed by humans. Herbicides may damage the local ecosystem as well.
According to the EPA, the most prevalent form of agricultural pollution is the runoff of chemicals from a field. Rainwater running over a field will remove a small portion of the topsoil, moving it along to other areas where herbicides may destroy native plant life. Cultivation practices such as planting cover crops like rye grass, trenches or sod barriers will reduce the chances of run off.
Herbicide accident may be prevented by choosing the correct herbicide for your situation. Herbicides drift on the air, and non-specific herbicides will cause damage to non-target plants. Choosing low-volatile esters will reduce this type of damage. According to the University of Florida's website, wettable herbicide powders are usually less phytotoxic to plants than emulsifiable concentrates. Choosing an herbicide that breaks down quickly will allow you to plant new crops without worry of herbicide carryover.
Herbicides require safe storage space to prevent spills and prevent poisoning to curious animals and children. Storing herbicides in a locked, secure building with a concrete floor and good ventilation prevents leakage, potential pressurized combustion of the storage container and the potential for mammalian accidents. Herbicides require labeling before storage so they are not confused with other garden products in the following year.
Herbicide disposal requires checking with local authorities for regulations. The EPA or university extension service will provide information on the places and procedures for disposing of herbicides. Some herbicide containers are free to burn. Never stand in the smoke of the herbicide or burn the container too close to plants, as the fumes will kill them. Many herbicide are not suitable for burning and must be disposed of at local depositories.
Application of herbicide require reading and following the instructions on the herbicide container label. Pay attention to whether the container says the herbicide requires application by a certified professional. It is not only dangerous for an amateur to apply fertilizer requiring a professional's hand, it is illegal.
When spraying with a high-pressure sprayer, it is not advisable to use a higher pressure than specified on the label, as this will cause drift and wild spraying. Safety goggles, gloves and respirators are required when spraying to prevent absorption of the herbicide in to eyes, skin and lungs. Long clothes are also recommended, as herbicides may cause skin burns or allergic reactions.