Here at Japanese Knotweed Solutions (JKSL) we take our responsibility for the environment seriously. Clients often ask what steps we take to reduce environmental impacts during our spray operations, so I’d like to take the opportunity to share the steps we take to ensure that environmental impacts are kept to a minimum.

Knowledge of a site is hugely important when planning treatment. Prior to our Site Operatives attending site for herbicide applications, our Operations Team and Surveyors perform detailed desk-based assessments. These assessments include checking Natural England’s Magic Map for areas of ecological importance, such as SSSI’s, BAP habitats, LNRs, LWSs, and European Protected Species. These checks are vital as appropriate permissions must be sought prior to treatment if the land is designated, for example, SSSI consent must be granted by Natural England if operations are on or near a SSSI.

Information collected during the desk-based study is coupled with site specific information collected from the client (i.e. Ecology report) and JKSL’s Surveyors who are degree-educated in Botany, Biology and Environmental Sciences. This allows us to build an understanding of the habitats we are working in. The information is passed to the Site Operatives to ensure they are informed of any known environmentally or ecologically sensitive areas and constraints prior to attending site.

A number of JKSL’s staff are BASIS qualified, holding Certificates in Crop Protection for Amenity Horticulture and Invasive and Injurious Weeds, so we are well-qualified to give advice. The most appropriate herbicide will be recommended by the surveyor in discussion with the client. The choice of herbicide will be determined by several factors including: the presence and type of surrounding vegetation, the use of the land, and proximity to rivers, streams, ditches and open water.

The type of herbicide used in a treatment is important, especially when working in ecologically and environmentally sensitive areas. In areas such as this, a glyphosate based herbicide will normally be selected as methods of application can avoid using knapsack sprayers. This minimises the environmental impact of chemical drift by applying herbicide directly to the target plant species via stem injection or direct application to the leaf by ‘weed wiping’. JKSL work closely with the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and SEPA, and follow guidance and recommendations when working within 5m of open or running water, ensuring we have appropriate licences in place (WQM1 / AQherb1) and that only herbicides licensed for use near waterbodies are used.

All of this work would be pointless if we didn’t have a dedicated team of Site Operatives on the ground travelling the country and carrying out the chemical treatments. All Site Operatives are fully qualified holding PA1 and PA6a spray licences, with the majority also being PA6aw trained. These Operatives ensure all herbicides are mixed and applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Equipment is calibrated before the start of each job to ensure the recommended amount of chemical is applied to the infestation. Site Operatives always do their upmost to prevent chemical drift occurring and impacting non target species, taking into account weather conditions and wind speed / direction, and will avoid spraying herbicide if the conditions are not right.

So there it is: a little taster of the lengths that JKSL go to, to ensure the environmental impacts of our chemical spray operations are minimised. Best practice does evolve and licences change from time to time on the products we use – it’s our job to keep up to date with these changes and always do the best we can… the environment matters!

Stuart Morris
Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd