When applying herbicides along roadsides to control weeds, it’s important to do so without injuring desirable vegetation, especially grasses. A point not lost on Gary Porter, vegetation manager for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
“Protecting grass from injury with our herbicide treatments is so important to us because of the potential negative effects associated with poor grass-stand density—especially erosion,” said Porter. “Many of our roads are in close proximity to the Mississippi River, and there are a lot of loess bluffs in the area, meaning a good rainstorm can cause major washouts along our roads. A good, dense grass stand will help us avoid always having to send crews out to fix these washes.”
A thriving grass stand is crucial when it comes to preventing erosion along roadsides, as it acts as a deterrent to rain and other factors contributing to erosion. But roadside-vegetation managers need to be aware of all the benefits of keeping grasses healthy and thriving along roadsides.
Another benefit of a healthy grass stand is that it serves as a natural weed barrier. If grass density is reduced from injury or other causes, weeds will begin to germinate and crowd out what grass remains. Although weeds will most likely be present even in the thickest stands of grass, when the densities are lowered, aesthetics, motorist security and the economics of maintaining the roadside begin to take a downturn.
Porter relies on good product stewardship to help address potential environmental issues such as the effects of herbicides on grasses.
“I know herbicides, and I understand their modes of action and recognize injury symptoms in grass,” said Porter. “But when I receive new samples of herbicide to try, I appreciate the opportunity to pick the brain of the rep to get an understanding of the chemistry. This is especially important to help avoid things like grass injury or other off-target damage.”
“Along our roadsides, we have a lot of issues with cogongrass, thistles and several other problem species all trying to crowd out our Bahia grass and Bermuda grass,” Porter said. “We use several different herbicides in our program, such as Rodeo and Garlon 3A, but in our real tough areas, we use a treatment of 5 to 7 oz of Milestone. It has the broadest spectrum of weed control, and it also does very well on black locust, mimosa and several woody vines, with minimal grass injury.”
Milestone specialty herbicide can be used as a broadcast application on Bahia-grass roadsides and is compatible with other products with Bahia-grass labels. In addition, Milestone can be applied year-round in Bermuda-grass roadsides without concerns of injury.
Keeping America’s roads and roadsides secure and beautiful is a daily challenge for vegetation managers like Porter. Understanding and promoting the benefits of a healthy roadside grass stand helps meet that challenge.