Aquatic plant management in the UK

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by plantbrain, 17 Jul 2009.

  1. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

    I just returned from a professional meeting of the APMS in WI. I listened to a UK researcher discussing how nasty many of the UK's streams and aquatic plant issues are.

    Seems most just like to study and look at weeds in the UK, where in the USA, we go out and actually kill them.
    The UK is really highly limited with respect to use of herbicides.

    We have long involved processes in the US to use them with the EPA for environmental impacts and also several other state agencies(CA particularly).

    It's really sad that they would rather do nothing and allow a weed to take over, crowd out and kill native species. There is insane resistance to the use of an approve chemical to kill the weeds, but nutrients, sewage, development, lawn use of herbicides and pesticides(all of which end up in the streams and ground water) seem to be overlooked curiously.

    The herbicides used specifically for aquatic weeds are specific and breakdown, generally into CO2 and water by bacteria in time. Some such as Fluidone are 4000X less toxic than caffeine, tea time anyone? Many of the newer ones are used in the parts per Billion ranges. They are also only used as one tool in the management. They are also only used to control or eradicate the weeds, and once gone, the herbicide is no longer used.

    The weeds on the other hand are self replicating and continue to grow and expand, they only get worse if you chose to do nothing. Rapid control and eradication is temporary.

    I myself had very strong opinions about herbicide use for water, however, I know a lot about it these days.
    I focus on killing sediment propagules without herbicides. This is due to the registration and long involved process and cost for a new tool if a chemical is used. So chemicals are very effective and safe when used correctly. Most mechanical cutters simply fragment and spread the aquatic weeds(think of 200000 bits of Penny wort everywhere!), they make the problem even worse.

    There are few if any import laws for the aquatic plants also, we have laws in place here, AU has even more as well as NZ.

    Big challenge there in the UK to control aquatic weeds I'd say.
    The public preception of herbicides used for this is a huge stumbling block.

    Tom Barr
  2. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK

    Over here almost everything is a case of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'

    It's like I've said many times before r.e. wind turbines etc. People will support them until they are proposed close to them and suddenly they turn from supporter to protestor.

    Everything is a case of we want this but not in my back yard.

    I agree r.e. the way they do things in the waterways over here. Once or twice a year they use massive dredgers and drag all the weeds out onto the banks as well as all the silt below that level. Then it looks a little tidier and water runs faster down stream etc.

    In the populated areas there is no such thing as a water weed. There is no such thing as reality!!! Pretty gras banks with clear water. Manipulated to look like a designer garden stream. I am surprised they don't filter all the natural colouration out to make the water clear.

    Everyone loves nature but doesn't know what nature is. Nature is beautiful but a real beautiful and not an artificial beautiful. Unfortunately over here it seems that artificial beauty is what is aimed for with all things.

    They will protect 1 lake near a city saying they are looking after their environment. You know full well that is a indication that in the city another part of waterway that had grown up naturally is going to be 'tidied up'

    similar to planting a forest outside the city, claiming they've done it for green reasons, 6 months later they chop down a park in the city to build yet another eyesore 'architecturally acclaimed' executive flats complex.

    The City I live used to have a huge section just behind the industrial areas (Only 15 or so years ago) where it was pure natural marshland. Unbuildable on. Superb natural 'wasteland'

    Has a massive great University sat on top of their artificial concrete 'ground' now. All the natural flood plains are built on. We are lucky that we are not underwater as many other cities/towns are when there is a deluge. Even if there is a high chance of flood they still build on it.

    Nature doesn't have a huge part in the UK. The majority think they are doing their bit but most of them don't really understand. They recycle, they do what they are told but none of them can leave a piece of land to grow naturally even if noone uses it. Eyesore is a popular word for natural growth here :)

    My god I am getting more miserable as I grow older. lol

  3. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Just to add the some of the most diverse and ecological valuable habitats in the UK would disappear if it wasn't for proper management. But that said, so called 'wasteland' is a priority for house building sites!

  4. Sye Davies

    Sye Davies Member

    amen to that.

    i sometimes dont understand the thinking behind this nation of ours.........we kind of "put up the blikers" to problems until they get out of control...........then have to enforce massive measures to irradicate said problems at GREAT expense to us...the tax payer.....instead of a minimal outlay at the start.

    me........i just dont get it. :rolleyes: ;)
  5. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

    And it kills every thing that it gets near and kills all the fish and life in thr stream in the process, the non targets are all hacked to bits and killed.

    Comparatively speaking, herbicides are non toxic to the fish and most animal life.
    Somehow they look at chemicals, but not the mechanical Chopper of Death on very different terms, as if the mechanical method is somehow a green less environmentally hazard to the system.

    It's not.

    Perhaps :D


    Tom Barr
  6. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

    Well, after development and loss of habitat due to that from humans, invasive exotic weeds are the largest threat to aquatic systems, fish and native species.

    Hopefully that will change, the EU does not even have a comprehensive plan for aquatic weed management, it's starting, but is a long ways off still.

    However, at the national level, they can do a lot right now.

    tom barr
  7. Brenmuk

    Brenmuk Member

    As far as I know dredgers tend to be used more to clear lakes (large ponds) and rivers in urban areas to stop sediment build up which would eventually convert them into bogs and then to grass land more than to eradicate invasive species.
    Most people (thanks to the media) are paranoid about GM plants being introduced into the environment and are completely ignorant about the huge ecological impact that invasive species can have. I don't think I have ever been warned about releasing non native species into wild when buying terrestrial or aquatic plants from fish shops /garden centres.
    I don't have a pond but I wonder how many invasive plants are still on sale here in the UK?
    Here is a list of some invasive aquatic plants in the UK Web/IAAPwebsite/Aqplantsppindex.asp?offset=0

    Sometimes I wonder if it worth fighting against invasive species - new plants and animals do eventually colonise most ecosystems its a part of nature - what I suppose is not natural is the rate and speed of introduction of new invasive species -the drastic increase is a man made phenomenon.
  8. plantbrain

    plantbrain Expert

    Well, it cost the USA over $2 Billion a year to manage and control them.
    Florida alone spends 50 million on one species to control. The fishing tourism provides 1 Billion, the transportation gives 6 Billion the cost to control it far outweighs the Do Nothing approach.

    Doing nothing to an invasive self replicating species never...........gets better. Then it gets really out of hand.

    We spend in contrast to Florida, about 2.4 Million per year to kill and eradicate Hydrilla, 20X less than Florida, because we have good leadership and we kill every bit of it even if we have to go to extremes to do so. Eradication is like the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, don't let the weeds in, and if they do mange to get it, rapid response plans eradicate it.

    It's not something you do once and that is it, it's an on going program that keeps the waters free of invasive species, but the cost of doing nothing is far far more than the on going program. Some look to biocontrol but these never eradicate, they only control the weeds, and often the weeds live outside the tolerances of the Biocontrol agents.

    The damage some of these things do is extreme, never thought much about it until I started going out and seeing the irrigation canals, transport, fouling of boats, breeding ground for mosquitos/disease vectors, and the worse is actually flooding and flood control, causing Billion's $ in damages across the world.

    For most of the folks, who would swim in a weed choked cess pool with algae mats and weeds filling the lake up or stream?

    Here's some links for more, this is where the research is for aquatic plants, not in horticulture.

    Tom Barr
  9. zig

    zig Member

    Dublin Ireland
    Here's an article from an Irish newspaper today about weed management on a large lake/waterway in the west of Ireland, sounds like they are only interested in containment of the problem, or maybe the problem is just to big, these guys are going to be busy for years to come I would imagine, the Corrib is a huge lake, the biggest in Ireland, all of the major salmon rivers in the West of Ireland run off or into this lake, fished it many times.
  10. Brenmuk

    Brenmuk Member

    To be fair plantbrain I don't really disagree with any of the points you make. But my immediate response is to be resistant to the use of herbicides and pesticides. I think herbicides have got a bad image but this is partly due to the early generations of herbicides that were used- looking at dioxins properties and history for example reads like
    a horror story and there are plenty of other nasty herbicides out there that are highly toxic if not
    used properly such as diquat and paraquat. There is also the view, and again this might be more to do with hysteria than fact, that there is already a cocktail of nasty chemicals in our water ways from pollution so why add to it even in a small way with more herbicides.

    I think the ideal herbicide should have a) short half life and I'm talking a matter of days to a few months tops
    b)Its toxicity should be specific to its target species
    c)it should not bio accumalate and be passed on in species from parent to offspring (vertical transmission)
    d)ideally it should not end up in the human food chain.

    I couldn't find any data for fluidone so I am assuming you mean fluridone. Looking at the data for fluridone i think it broadly meets the above criteria and I can see the point you make about its use in combating invasive weeds.
    One thing I wouldn't be comfortable with though is its use for purely aesthetic reasons - to make a pond 'look nice'. For me there would have to be more compelling economic and ecological reasons for it and any other herbicides use.
    Also if a pond or stream is choked with weed/algae is this not more to due with managing nutrient levels from fertiliser run off for example?

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