Q17. What are the effects of herbicides on soil life?

Answer: Herbicides do affect the soil biota unnecessarily. Weeds should be looked at ‘mulch potential’ and mulched after mowing. Good soil does not allow weeds to grow as they need a bacterially dominated soil. Most cropping plants are perennial and benefit from a fungal dominated soil. Addition of compost and mulches to increase the organic matter in the soil will turn over the soil biota to fungal domination. It is better to farm the soil and build soil health than it is to apply chemicals. Growers using Glyphosate, a broad spectrum herbicide, are having great success in managing weedy species as they transition to biological systems, by adding humic acids to the herbicide in dilutions of 50% to 75% herbicide. The mix has less impact on the soil biota allowing it to recover much more quickly than straight herbicide alone.

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