New study calculates environmental cost of managing a Japanese weed – ScienceDaily

New Swansea University research looked at the long-term environmental impact of different methods of controlling the Japanese knotweed.

Invasive species have been calculated to cost more than £165 million to manage each year in the UK alone. Its presence could blight the property purchases of families across the country.

This has led to the development of various methods of trying to control it but with the importance of sustainability growing, understanding the impact of these management methods is vital.

A new study, led by biosciences lecturer Dr Sophie Hawking and looking at the entire life cycle and long-term effects of different management approaches, has been published in an online journal. Scientific reports.

Dr Hawking said: “In light of the current climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, managing invasive species and sustainability has never been so important.

“Both are intrinsically linked – we know that invasive species can cause significant negative environmental, social and economic impacts, and the way we manage these species must mitigate this in a sustainable way to ensure we don’t do more harm than good.

“Although more research has been done on how to best manage the plant, little is known about the sustainability of these methods.”

This study follows on from previous research that placed Swansea University at the forefront of Japanese knotweed expertise and understanding.

In 2012, Professor Dan Eastwood and Dr Dan Jones launched the world’s largest complex weed control field trial that tested the main physical, chemical and integrated methods of species control. The research was conducted in close partnership with Ian Graham, Managing Director of Complete Weed Control, and Advanced Invasives, a subsidiary, headed by Dr. Jones.

This field study provided valuable information for Dr. Hawking’s work. Use a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – a methodology for evaluating the environmental impacts associated with all stages of the life cycle of a commercial operation – to find out the relative environmental impacts of a combination of chemical and physical knotweed management methods.

The researchers went beyond focusing on the use and end-of-life if these methods and evaluated the environmental effects of various management methods including the production of substances and herbicides needed to achieve cannabis control; Something that is often overlooked when assessing sustainability. For the study, the team chose commonly used methods for managing complex herbs and used realistic data on time consumption, amount of materials used, and economic costs to assess their relative environmental impacts.

Of the methods tested, they found that the simplest approach – glyphosate-based foliar control methods – uses the least materials, has the least environmental impacts, has the least economic cost, and is therefore, the most sustainable way to approach cannabis management. . The findings are of interest to those working with or affected by the presence of the Japanese knotweed on their lands

Dr Hawking added: “There is currently a huge conversation about the sustainability of herbicides and the environmental and health implications of this. Social perceptions of the ways we manage invasive plants are really important, but we need to root our understanding of sustainability in empirical evidence.”

“We hope that this research will contribute to our broader understanding of the sustainability of different approaches to managing invasive plants and help inform current knotweed management practices.”

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