An 8-step program to kick the habit!
Have you noticed it? You wake up one morning and find the cash in your wallet missing. Then you get a call from the lawn guy.
“I need to come by and give you one more treatment. I noticed a few grub spots that we should take care of now before it gets worse”
I thought he did that last fall, you think to yourself.
“Well you know, these things are normal. No worries though, we’ll have your yard lookin’ great in no time.”
Your sweaty finger can barely tap the screen to hang up. You swore it wouldn’t be like this. You saw the warning signs, but just thought it was normal behavior. Now you’ve got a problem on your hands.
Gasp! Your yard is on crack!
At first it was a simple treatment, some elixir that would turn everything bright green and remove all weeds. But then come spring, you had to do it again. And then it was some fungus, then drought and aeration, then the trees had some powdery thing, and now grubs again? So much for an affordable lawn care service.
OK, first things first, we have a problem. That’s right (say it with me) this is a PROBLEM!
And we need to fix it before we’ve begun selling bits of our yard in exchange for shooting a little chemical application onto the remaining empty shell of a lawn.
Why are yard chemicals a problem?
Both herbicides and pesticides have a contentious past. On the one hand, agrochemical companies advertise their glorious benefit without risk to health or environment. And on the other hand, independent researchers, NGOs, and individuals cry out for their restriction due to their risks to health and environment.
A recent Reuters article summarizes the contention over one such herbicide, “There are numerous studies that have determined glyphosate to be safe, but several others have linked it to human health ailments. Critics say they fear that glyphosate is so pervasive in the environment that extended exposure even to trace amounts can be harmful.”3
How can there be such a dichotomy? No risk vs. high risk?
My perspective is as follows, and I certainly recommend you do your own research on this topic to make your own conclusion.
Agrochemicals do provide a benefit through use. Whether intended to remove a plant or insect pest, these chemicals are generally effective in eliminating the targeted pest. Thus, there is a benefit from the perspective that they execute the intended task, and often do it well. So that’s all fine and dandy, right?
After use, agrochemicals can have lateral effects as well. While some chemicals are purportedly neutralized after use through organic matter or UV exposure such as RoundUp (glyphosate), other chemicals are persistent in the environment and organisms for a long period of time. Some chemicals such as Atrazine (the second most used agrochemical in the US) have been shown to have effects on birth weight, embryonic development, and other health effects.4
Aside from health effects, there are also effects on the immediate environment itself. Most importantly, both pesticides and herbicides have been shown to degrade and even kill the microbiology of the soil.5 This is very important, because microbial health of the soil is paramount to plant health. The reduction of soil life has a widespread effect on the health of plants.