A new West Devon group

Looking for like-minded others in your locality? Say hello and connect to a local hub here. No local hub in your area? Interested in forming one?

People in hubs can provide each other with local support. Everything from exchanging information about local contractors, to obtaining local seed. Groups may want to organise their own local events like Open Meadows and Scything Workshops.

Interested in starting your own group? Read this post.
John Head
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:40 pm
Location: St Giles on the Heath
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: A new West Devon group

Post by John Head »

Hi Robin, I've just spent some time replying but the mesaage got lost for some unknown reason. :!: As I'm a bit busy at the moment it may be a while before I reply again. However I do recognise your concerns over modern methods and technology. I will simply say that we both have the same aim of creating species-rich meadows, but that I am prepared to use glyphosate, especially in the establishment phase or improvement stage. However my plan is to minimize and even stop using this herbicide as the new meadow I've created matures.
John Head
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:40 pm
Location: St Giles on the Heath
Been thanked: 1 time

Glyphosate use

Post by John Head »

Hi Simon,
I’d planned to write a detailed reply explaining the value of glyphosate in meadow management (and creation) but time constraints have limited me to the following, trying to address your concerns.

I’ve taken a brief look at the biomineraltechnologies.com website but would caution about simply accepting its content, or indeed, that of any single source of information. The complexity of determining the health or environmental safety of any pesticide is something for organisations with both the expertise and resources needed to evaluate the large amount of associated data. This is why I previously mentioned the Wikipedia entry for glyphosate where the conclusions (positive and negative) of these organisations are discussed and referenced. The Soil Association review similarly illustrates the complex and contradictory data associated with the effect of glyphosate on soils and soil life, essentially calling for more research to help clarify the position.

Before going on let’s be clear that I’m defending the limited and targeted use of glyphosate in meadow management, primarily the ‘spot-glyphosating’ of difficult perennial weeds,such as docks and certain thistle, and the ‘one-off’ creation of a weed-free seedbed when starting a meadow from scratch. This is distinct from its intensive use in agriculture where factors such as the frequency (perhaps annually) and area sprayed (fieldscale) are very different, and where such use (or misuse) has given rise to some of the concerns that have been raised against glyphosate.

Whether or not an individual is inclined to use glyphosate depends in part on whether they are prepared to tolerate any degree of risk to health or the environment. For some, any data showing any effect of glyphosate is enough for them to not use it. I feel this represents an over-reaction which results in the loss of a valuable tool in meadow management. A less extreme approach stems from recognizing that any chemical (man-made or natural), and indeed any human activity, can be shown to have some negative effects if studied in enough detail. The key question is how significant is that level of risk. I believe, based on my own scientific knowledge and the consensus scientific view, that the risk of glyphosate to health or to the environment is low.

I do recognize that further study on the effects of glyphosate effects on soil and soil life is very important, and that it is important to remain alert to any new research that provides strong evidence of possible harmful effects. However I interpret much of the current data as either identifying relatively minor effects that may well be temporary-soil after all is a very dynamic environment- or relate to intensive agricultural situations which, as mentioned above, has limited relevance to the meadow use being discussed.

To conclude, given the prevailing broadly favourable consensus view on glyphosate regarding health and the environment, and the fact that its use in meadow management will indeed be limited and targeted, I believe glyphosate use to control difficult perennial weeds in meadows is both safe and helpful. It can also be invaluable in creating a weed-free seedbed when starting a meadow from scratch- however anyone considering embarking on this approach should watch Matt Pitt’s excellent video on ‘How to create a Meadow’ beforehand. Finally, as mentioned previously, any glyphosate spraying should be done in line with manufacturer’s instructions and its use kept to a minimum-recognizing that while its associated risks may be low, they are not necessarily zero.
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