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Ask Cam

Fall weed control

October 18, 2011

Question:

Cam, why is our so-called green university spraying so much pesticide these days? Twice in the last three weeks I have seen thick foam trails of pesticide on lawns where people sit, eat and play and very little warning as to what it is. Why on earth are we spraying now that it is frost season anyway?

Do you have a contract with the maker of the product which I'm sure we will hear is incredibly safe, but so strong you can smell it for 3 weeks after it is foamed down.

At least alert people so they aren't picking up a football from the grass that was just sprayed. We don't see the tiny flags.

Cam’s answer:

Thanks for sending your concern. I talked with Doug Nagel, manager of Outdoor Services on campus, and he said the foam isn’t pesticide.

“The foam is a non-toxic soap marker that we use to show us where we have sprayed, and sometimes the soap will trail off onto the walks or street. That doesn’t mean we’re spraying the sidewalks,” Doug says.

The turf is sprayed with an herbicide once per year in the fall, which is the best time to spray for broad-leaf weeds.

“We flag all of the areas we are going to spray and leave it marked for a minimum of 24 hours,” he says.

“All of the herbicides that we use are approved by EHS, and we abide by all of the EPA regulations for mixing and applying.”

As far as contracts go, Doug says: “I wish we had a contract with the manufacturer. The herbicide is very expensive to purchase.”

So when you're out and around campus, check closer for the flags. Our grounds crew can't cover the whole area with flags every few yards, but they're being as diligent as possible.

- Cam the Ram