Herbicides--Protecting Long-Term Sustainability and Water Quality in Forest Ecosystems

  • Authors: Neary, Daniel G.; Michael, Jerry L.
  • Publication Year: 1996
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science. 26(1/2): 241-264.


World-wide, sediment is the major water quality problem. The use of herbicides for controllingcompeting vegetation during stand establishment can be benciicial to forest ecosystem sustainability and water quality by minimising off-site soil loss, reducing onsite soil and organic matter displacement, and preventing deterioration of soil physical properties. Sediment losses from sites where competing vegetation is controlled by mechanical methods can be I to 2 orders of magnitude greater than natoral Losses from undisturbed watersheds. On a watershed basis, vegetation management techniques in general incrcaseannualerosion by <7%. Herbicides do not increase natural erosion rates. Organic matter and nutrients that are critical to long-term site productivity can be removed off-site by mechanical vegetation-managcmcnt techniques and fix, or redistributed on-site in a manner that rcduccs availability to the next stand.

For several decades, research has been conducted on the fate of for citry-use herbicides in various watersheds throughout the southern and western United States, Canada, and Australia. This rescearch has evaluated chemicals such as 2,4-D,glyphosate, hexazinone, imazapyr, metsulfuron methyl, picloram, sulfometuronmethyl,tebuthiuron, and triclopyr. Losses in strcamflow, and leaching to groundwater have been evaluated. Field study data indicate that rcsidue concentrations tend to be low. except where direct applications are made to ephemeral channels or streams, and do not persist for extended periods of time. Regional environmental impact statements in the United States demonstrate that forestly herbicide presence in surface and groundwater is not a significant risk to water quality or human health. They also clearly indicate that herbicides can greatly reduce water quality deterioration that is produced by erosion 2nd sedimentation.

  • Citation: Neary, Daniel G.; Michael, Jerry L. 1996. Herbicides--Protecting Long-Term Sustainability and Water Quality in Forest Ecosystems. New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science. 26(1/2): 241-264.
  • Keywords: herbicides; sediment, water quality, environment, site productivity, forestry, vegetation control
  • Posted Date: April 1, 1980
  • Modified Date: August 22, 2006
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