Weed Killer Residue: Length Of Time Chemical Herbicides Linger In Soil

herbicide (herbicide) can be an effective way to get rid of unwanted plants you may have in your garden, but herbicide is usually made up of quite powerful chemicals. these chemicals may not be something you want to contaminate plants, especially fruits and vegetables. So the questions “how long does herbicide last in the soil?” and “Is it safe to eat food grown where herbicide has been previously sprayed?” can go up.

soil herbicide

The first thing you need to know is that if the herbicide was still present, your plants might not be able to survive. very few plants can survive a chemical herbicide, and those that do are either genetically engineered to do so or are weeds that have become resistant. Chances are the fruit or vegetable plant you are growing is not resistant to the herbicide or to most herbicides in general. many herbicides are designed to attack the root system of the plant. if the herbicide was still present in the soil, you wouldn’t be able to grow anything.

Reading: How long for weed killer to wear off

This is why most herbicides are designed to evaporate within 24-78 hours. this means that, for the most part, it is safe to plant anything, edible or inedible, in a spot where you have sprayed herbicide after three days. if you want to be on the safe side, you can wait a week or two before planting.

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In fact, most herbicides sold residentially are required by law to break down in the soil within 14 days, if not sooner. take glyphosate, for example. This non-selective post-emergence herbicide typically breaks down in days to weeks depending on the specific product you have.

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(note: new research has indicated that glyphosate may, in fact, remain in the soil longer than initially thought, up to at least a year. it is best to avoid use this herbicide if possible unless absolutely necessary, and only with caution).

herbicide residues over time

While all herbicide residues degrade over time, they still depend on several factors: weather conditions (light, humidity and temperature), soil and herbicide properties. even if there are some residual chemicals that are not lethal to plants left in the soil after the herbicide has evaporated or broken down, these chemicals will most likely be washed away after a good rain or irrigation or two.

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Still, it can be argued that these chemical herbicides remain in the soil for much longer than a month, or even years, and it is true that residual sterilants, or “bare soil” herbicides, remain in the soil for long periods . but these stronger herbicides are normally limited to agricultural specialists and professionals. they are not intended for home use in gardens and landscapes; therefore, the average homeowner is generally unable to purchase them.

For the most part, the chemicals found in herbicides are not a problem for the home gardener once they have evaporated. According to many professionals in the field, most herbicides in use today have a relatively short residual life, as the EPA generally denies registration of those that are more potent.

That said, it’s always a good idea to fully read the directions and warnings on the label of any herbicide or herbicide product you buy. the manufacturer will have provided detailed instructions on how to apply the herbicide and when it will be safe to grow plants in that area again.

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Note: Any recommendations regarding the use of chemicals are for informational purposes only. Specific brand names or commercial products or services do not imply endorsement. chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and more environmentally friendly.

See also: Common Questions-COBRA

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