When you're fighting a battle against invasive weeds in the garden, it is tempting to grab a bottle of herbicide as a quick and easy solution. Hi-Yield Killzall Weed and Grass Killer may beckon you from the shelves of your local big-box store or garden centre. This particular product, however, requires caution if you plan on using it around vegetables or flowers.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognises Hi-Yield Killzall Weed and Grass Killer as Glyfos concentrate, 41 per cent weed and grass killer. It is manufactured by Cheminova, Inc., a company located in North Carolina. The solution is sold under eight different names, Hi-Yield Killzall Weed and Grass Killer being one of them. Glyphosate, the main active ingredient, is one of the most widely-used herbicides in the U.S. It is a non-selective herbicide, meaning that it kills both grasses and broadleaved weeds. Glyphosate works by preventing plants from making the proteins that they need to grow. Because Hi-Yield Killzall Weed and Grass Killer is a non-selective herbicide, it will kill or injure your vegetable plants if they're accidentally exposed to the chemical.
The Pesticide Management Education Program at Cornell University confirms that glyphosate may cause eye irritation in humans. In animal studies, researchers did not find any evidence that the herbicide causes cancer. Animals that were fed large amounts of glyphosate showed only slight weight loss and microscopic liver and kidney changes. The National Pesticide Information Center reports that people who swallow this chemical may experience increased saliva, throat irritation, nausea and vomiting.
The Material Safety Data Sheet for Hi-Yield Killzall Weed and Grass Killer says that this product is slightly to moderately toxic to aquatic organisms. Birds, however, do not appear to be affected. This product is not known to be toxic to honeybees. It can indirectly affect wildlife by killing plants in their habitats. Hi-Yield Killzall Weed and Grass Killer binds tightly to soil particles; then microorganisms break it down. Depending on the conditions, it may remain in the soil for six months. One study showed that half of the glyphosate in dead leaves broke down within nine days.
Minimise Damage to Non-Targeted Plants
Avoid spraying this chemical next to plants that you want to keep as the pesticide may drift and kill the desirable plants. You may want to try the "glove-in-glove" technique to make sure this product only affects those pesky weeds. Put on a non-permeable rubber glove so that the weed and grass killer does not come into contact with your skin. Then, slip on a larger, cotton glove over the rubber glove. Apply a small amount of the herbicide to the palm of the cotton glove and wring out the excess if necessary. Then grasp the weed at the base and rub your gloved hand over the plant. The herbicide will coat and kill the undesirable plant while sparing nearby vegetables. Use a garden hose to rinse off the chemicals from your gloves outside where they will dissolve in the soil -- do not rinse them off in the sink. You can also use a disposable paintbrush to "paint" the herbicide onto weeds. If you must spray this chemical in your yard, it is imperative that you do it on a non-windy day to avoid harming non-targeted plants.
You may want to pull your weeds by hand to avoid using chemicals in your garden. Weed torches are another option but be careful not to burn your vegetables. Avoid pouring boiling water on weeds in your garden as this will destroy the soil organisms that are beneficial to your vegetable garden as a whole. A 2005 study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that vinegar offers some weed control. The acetic acid in vinegar destroys a plant's cell membranes and causes it to dry out. Household vinegar is most effective on new, tender weed sprouts.
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- Pesticide Action Network Pesticide Database: Hi-Yield Killzall Concentrate Systemic Weed & Grass Killer
- Do My Own Pest Control: Material Safety Data Sheet:Hi-Yield Super Concentrate Killzall Weed and Grass Killer (PDF)
- Pesticide Management Education Program: Glyphosate
- National Pesticide Information Center: Glyphosate General Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Terry L. Ettinger Horticulture Consulting Services: Glove in Glove Weed Control
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Organic Weed Control with Vinegar"; Charles Webber, et al.; 2005