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Environ Manage. 2005 Aug;36(2):237-47.

Off-target herbicide deposition associated with treating individual trees.

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  • 1Faculty of Forest and Natural Resources Management, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 215 Marshall Hall 1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.


There are a wide variety of different herbicide treatment methods used to remove single trees. Each method (cut-stump, basal, foliar) has a unique amount of off-target disturbance that should be considered in selecting a treatment for use in management. We quantified the amount of off-target deposition that resulted from four conventional herbicide application methods: 1) basal, 2) cut-stump, 3) high-volume, hydraulic foliar, and 4) low-volume, backpack foliar. Basal and cut-stump herbicide treatments deposited up to 200 and 4000 times more herbicide (a.i. per unit area) at groundline than the low-volume and high-volume foliar treatments, respectively. On a per tree basis, basal and cut-stump treatments deposited nearly six times more total herbicide than high-volume foliar, and 68 times more than low-volume foliar. All of the herbicide deposited off-target landed within 0.6 m of the basal and cut-stump treatments, 3.7 m with the low-volume foliar, and 7.3 m with high-volume foliar methods. Off-target herbicide deposition resulted in affected areas with killed or damaged vegetation ranging in size from 0.36 m2 (cut stump) to 7.08 m2 (high-volume foliar). Deposition amounts and affected areas were greater with larger trees, compared to smaller ones. We observed that 48% of the total amount of herbicide applied per plot was deposited off-target with cut-stump treatment, compared to only 4% to 11% for the other treatments. We suspect this difference is due to applicator error with the cut-stump treatment, likely related to the type of spray device used to apply the treatment.

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