Alternatives to Glyphosate and other Chemical Herbicides

Alternatives to Glyphosate and other Chemical Herbicides

Chemical herbicides cause many pathological conditions in humans (infertility, immune problems, cancers), are contributing to the rapid extinction of many species, denature soil, and penetrate to the water table endangering the entire ecosystem (see DANGERS OF GLYPHOSATE).

Dandelions and many other plants that Americans consider weeds support insects and birds valuable to our ecosystem, especially bees.

However, the question remains: how can we eliminate plants we don’t want in our gardens or driveways? How can unwanted plants be eliminated from tree farms? Here are four alternatives to get you started:

Manually: Simply dig out the unwanted plants.

  •  + Advantages:
    • A very reliable method since it insures removal of roots.
    • Ecologically speaking, does zero harm to soil or other plants.
  • Disadvantage:
    • Time and labor intensive.

Burning:  Controlled burns of large areas; or propane garden torch (“flamethrower”) for homeowners (at hardware stores for $35-50).

  •   Advantage:
    • Burned material can add nutrients to soil.
  •   –  Disadvantage:
    • May not destroy roots of undesired plants.
    • Fire is always a danger; and summer burn bans in our area limit this activity.
    • Torch should not be used near any gasoline or dry flammable material

Vinegar:  Horticultural vinegar (4 to 6 times stronger than grocery vinegar), or Home recipe: (1 gallon white vinegar,  1 to 1-1/2 Cup table salt or epsom salt, and 1/8 to 1/4 Cup Dove dish detergent. Mix in 2-gallon manual sprayer.)

  •  + Advantage
    • Highly effective. Keeps weeds down 1+ month; repeated application in a month keeps weeds down even longer. (Roundup and other glyphosate products also must be reapplied.)
    •  Safe and not labor-intensive.
    • Home recipe is far less expensive than other products.
  • Disadvantage
    • Horticultural vinegar poses risks for home use—risks to neighboring plants, to amphibians, and to the user’s safety.

Commercial alternatives to glyphosate: Green Gobbler, Bio-Safe, SaferGro, Avenger, BurnOut II, etc.

  •   Disadvantage
    • We assume these work as well as or better than home vinegar recipe. They all say “certified organic,” but consumer comments online say they kill everything in sight including bees. No information is provided on their sites regarding their exact ingredients.
    • Green Gobbler appears to be agricultural vinegar, repackaged and marked up.
    • Others use essential oils and/or soaps as their active ingredients. Let the consumer beware and check product for poisonous chemicals such as glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.
    •  Ingredients not listed online.
    •  Expense: these products range from $25 to $65 per gallon, as opposed to home vinegar recipe above ($3 – 5 per gallon).

Claudia Gorbman