The use of fertilizers and weed preventer herbicides are commonly used in gardening, farming, and other agricultural purposes around the world. But do we know what these weed killer products contain and are they safe for our environment? Is preen bad for the environment?
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What is preen garden weed preventer?
Preen garden weed preventer is a pre-emergent herbicide for weed control. It can control broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, chickweeds, and clovers from sprouting. It also kills existing weeds. It should be used in garden beds where growing vegetables or other sensitive plants are planned. It’s an all-around weed killer.
Preen weed control uses chemicals called “halosulfuron” which prevents weed seeds and existing weeds from germinating and is absorbed by plant leaves. When the chemical comes in contact with the seed for between 12 – 48 hours, it chemically alters the seed so that an embryo can not develop.
It has been given a lower toxicity rating of 2 on a scale of 1 to 4 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Preen weed control also contains “Trifluralin” which is a broad-spectrum herbicide, meaning it can kill most existing weeds. It’s considered safe if used as suggested by label instructions and does not cause harm to humans or the environment when applied correctly.
Trifluralin is considered a Group C, a possible human carcinogen by the EPA. It has low acute toxicity, but it is classified as a Group C, which implies that it may cause cancer in humans.
Garden weed preventer products also contain a carrier agent such as corn cob (corn gluten) and biodac (recycled newsprint) to help the herbicide stick to leaves where it will be absorbed. Corn gluten acts as an absorbent.
Garden weed preventer does get into the air when it is sprayed and can irritate eyes, throats, and lungs. It will not be harmful if it gets on your skin so long as you don’t ingest it or get it in your mouth.
Whenever using a garden weed preventer, when the product is applied the wind should not be blowing toward water bodies or non-target areas such as vegetable gardens.
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How do weed control herbicides and fertilizers go to different bodies of water?
Weed control herbicides and fertilizers that are designed to eliminate weeds or kill plants, will not be a benefit to a lake or a river. These weed control herbicides and fertilizers can have negative effects on the ecosystem of water bodies by killing off important aquatic vegetation.
In Nova Scotia, Canada weeds have been found growing under the ice in winter months. In North Carolina, where the use of garden weed preventer herbicides has been banned, a dense stand of cedar trees has been found. The cedars prevent other plants from growing and also create an ideal habitat for small mammals.
In areas that are not used for agriculture or gardening, weeds can grow into thickets that block animal trails and provide shelter for mice and other small animals.
Plants that spread by spores can choke out native plants, reduce the food supply, and affect animal habitats. In some coastal regions of North America, salt marsh cordgrass has been overgrown by invasive Spartina grasses which prevent new cordgrass shoots from getting sunlight to photosynthesize and growing taller than the invading grasses.
The EPA has also determined that pesticides in water bodies have harmful effects on aquatic life, fish, and insects. Insects are important food for several types of fish, preventing them from reaching adulthood.
The chemicals can affect the nervous system of fish, which results in death by suffocation because they are unable to take in oxygen through their gills.
Garden weed preventer pesticides that wash into water bodies via rain, snowmelt, or other natural processes can be broken down chemically by bacteria and sunlight, but may still cause problems to the aquatic ecosystem.
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What are agricultural runoffs, how does it affect the environment?
Agricultural runoffs are plant fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides used to kill weeds, herbicides used to control weeds, sediment from erosion of farmlands, and sediments deposited by the runoff.
Most agricultural runoff consists of phosphorus and nitrogen found in soils before heavy rainstorms or snowmelt. Runoff deposits synthetic fertilizers on the banks of lakes and rivers which stimulate algae growth.
This can cause a green scum to form on the surface of the water where phosphorus levels are highest. Green slime can be toxic, especially in lakes that have been treated with chemicals to keep phosphates from running into the sea.
Greenhouse gases also prevent oxygen from getting into the lake, which results in a dead zone. Dead zones can happen when algae die off and decompose in bottom waters, releasing bacteria that consume all the oxygen. Fish and other aquatic life suffocate unless they leave the area.
In some cases, nitrogen from runoff can cause acid rain by mixing with sulfur dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants and turning it into nitric acid. If the rain is very acidic, it can cause soil erosion and damage to plants by burning their leaves, which can kill dormant seeds and prevent new growth from taking place.
In North Carolina where garden weed preventer herbicides have been banned from being used on farms or near water bodies. This is because the change will allow for cows to graze in pastures where they can’t reach crops, which will result in less manure runoff.
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What is the best natural weed preventer?
The best natural weed preventer is not to use any weed killer chemical compounds or insecticides in your garden. If you have too many weeds growing in your garden, remove them by hand and water the plants lightly.
Placing mulch around plants will help stop weed growth without killing natural vegetation and will promote soil moisture.
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What are weed seeds, are they still important to our environment?
Weed seeds are the plant’s way of propagating itself and making more plants take its place. There is a very large variety of weed seeds, and most species will only germinate under certain conditions.
Most perennial weeds can be controlled by chemical herbicides and pulling out roots by hand or hoeing them down with a tool.
Weed seeds are important in their natural habitat because they provide food for animals, both directly and indirectly.
Weed seeds have several predators, one being birds that eat weed seeds along with other types of animal feed.
Some animals will also adapt to eating weeds by burying them underground or bringing them into their nests to protect them from the elements and predators.
Humans also play a role in weed seed survival because we sometimes adapt to eating certain types of weeds after they become part of our diet over time. Weeds such as lamb’s quarters, pigweed, and purslane contain several vitamins that can stop or slow down aging within cells making humans healthier for longer periods of time.
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It can be bad for the environment. Preen garden weed preventer contains some ingredients that are commonly endocrine disruptors and/or carcinogens, such as Trifluralin, which is considered a class C possible carcinogen.
Regarding our environment, it is clear that agricultural runoffs that come from weed preventer products, weed killer herbicides, lawn weed control products, and fertilizers get washed off and go to different local streams and rivers causing harm to aquatic life.
In conclusion, instead of using chemicals like weed killers, we can just pull weeds as an exercise, in this way we stay healthy and our environment.