Glyphosate-free weed control trial to begin in Cardiff

Streets and pavements in two areas of Cardiff will be glyphosate free this year as part of a trial designed to assess the viability of two alternative weed control methods.  

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the majority of products licenced for safe use in the public realm, and it is used by most local authorities across the UK, and extensively within the agricultural sector. The glyphosate-free alternatives being trialled are New Way Weed Spray and Foamstream.

The glyphosate-based product currently used in Cardiff is diluted to 0.00288 milligrams of active ingredient per litre (166 times lower than guidelines suggest), and carries no health hazard warning labels, however concerns have been raised about the impact of glyphosate use on biodiversity.

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury, said: “This trial will allow us to explore the feasibility of reducing our glyphosate use even further than we have already, and give us the real-world data we need to help assess whether this is something we could practically introduce in other areas of the city.”

“Here in Cardiff we’ve reduced our herbicide use massively over recent years - the dilution rate and spot treatment technology used by our contractors, mean we use around 80% less herbicide compared to previous application methods on our roads and pavements, and 2020 saw us using 20% less herbicide in parks – but we want to look at whether there is more we can do, and this limited trial will allow us to carry out a full assessment of the financial, environmental and service level costs and benefits of two herbicide alternatives.”

The two wards selected for the trial are Riverside, and Pontprennau & Old St Mellons. In Riverside, New Way Weed Spray, will be used for the duration of the growing season, and in Pontprennau & Old St Mellons, Foamstream technology will be used.

New Way Weed Spray contains a high concentration of acetic acid, which kills weeds on contact. One potential side-effect of this method of weed control is a strong smell which can linger for a limited period after the product is applied, dependent on weather conditions.

Foamstream technology is a herbicide free, plant-based product which combines hot water and a biodegradable foam made from natural plant oils and sugars. The foam acts as insulation, ensuring heat is not lost to the atmosphere and can cover the plant long enough for it to kill weeds. 

The trials are expected to start towards the end of March/beginning of April, dependent on weather conditions.