Farmstead Maintenance – Mitigating Cross-Contamination with Weed Control

Many actions are taken on the farmstead to ensure a healthy crop, but often forgotten are the weeds outside of the production area. Although many plants provide environmental benefits such as water infiltration, carbon sequestration, and a haven for pollinators; certain species of weeds can be a natural host for pests and diseases that can threaten your crops. Foliar and soilborne issues arise from harmful nematodes, plant pathogens, and unfriendly insects that find refuge in untamed and untreated growth. It’s important for farmers to identify susceptible plant species so they’re able to make informed decisions about reducing pest pressure, such as spot spraying unwanted plants to ensure the best health of those that bring value to the farm.  

Removing key weeds is an easy way to mitigate cross-contamination of plant diseases into production areas. Certain pests like aphids, thrips, and spider mites create open wounds on plant surfaces that create entryways for pathogens and disease development. 

For example, aphids are attracted to weedy plants such as sowthistle, milkweed, and mustard. They travel by hitching a ride on clothing, tools, or each other to new food sources. Traveling this way makes it easy for aphids to spread diseases and viruses from an infected plant to a healthy plant in a short period of time.

Weeds are versatile hosts and harbor all kinds of viruses. For example, Horseweed, Conyza (Erigeron) canadensis, is a natural host for Cucumber mosaic cucomovirus (CMV)*. Cucumber mosaic affects over 1,200 plant species including fruits, vegetables, and woody ornamentals and is most often spread by aphids. There is no curative action for viruses – preventative sanitation and weed control give you the best chance for healthy, high yielding crops. 

While insects are easier to spot and control, disease inoculum are a lot more elusive and can travel wherever the wind blows. In our attempts to ensure a healthy crop, our focus should include nearby weeds which may be hosting diseases. All it takes is one susceptible host plant and a vector, such as wind or a traveling insect pest, to start the disease cycle. So, despite a preventative approach to plant pathogen control within a crop, local disease pressure can remain high from contaminated vegetation outside of the cropping area. Unfortunately, if you’re seeing symptoms of a disease, damage has already occurred.

In recent years, there’s been growing concerns about using some conventional weed control products due to their negative impact on the surrounding environment and their persistence in the soil. 

Using a sustainable burn-down weed killer, like AXXE® Broad Spectrum Herbicide, will ensure that soils remain active and uncontaminated. This ammonium nonanoate-based product will not translocate in the soil or volatilize, meaning it won’t be carried in the air. 

AXXE Broad Spectrum Herbicide can be used in spot spray applications or as a broadcast vegetative spray to knock down masses of overgrowth, and even has labeling for insect control on soft-bodied insects such as aphids, thrips, earwigs, and grasshoppers. This dual application is ideal for cross-contamination concerns as it kills pest/pathogen host weeds and disease-spreading vectors.  

AXXE Broad Spectrum Herbicide is OMRI-Listed and a certified USDA Biobased product. Biobased products are derived from natural materials and are recommended by the USDA to Federal government and contractors through the BioPreferred Program. This program was created in 2002 to promote biobased products to quell the negative effects of harsh chemistries on the environment. 

The salts in AXXE Broad Spectrum Herbicide penetrate the cell walls of plants, disrupts the cellular functions of the targeted weeds, and kill them within hours of application. This on-contact activity is ideal for IPM programs and resistance management and is a top choice for growers who want sustainable, reduced-risk broadleaf weed, grass, and liverwort control.

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