Aaron Palmateer, PhD, explains how an effective weed control program can also be cost-effective.

1 | What does it cost to build an effective weed control program?

There are a number of approaches to managing weeds, including the use of pre and postemergence herbicides, cultivation, barriers and even more labor-intensive efforts like hand weeding. In a recent study, North Carolina State Extension found that weed management for container nursery crops can cost upwards of $4,000 an acre. Many growers may not realize that what they see as a budget-friendly program could actually be hurting their overall profitability.

2 | What do you see as the key challenge in staying profitable when it comes to weed control?

It’s no secret that labor shortages pose tremendous challenges for nurseries, but taking a critical eye to the total input of a herbicide program can help relieve a portion of that labor stress. In many ways, labor can actually feel more stretched than budgets.

3 | You mentioned “total input” before. What do you mean by that?

Managing a budget for a weed control program will always factor in product costs – but there are also other costs. Every herbicide application will require labor such as site preparation, application prep (equipment, handling, mixing), plus the application itself and any cleanup. Then, that labor cost must be multiplied by the total number of applications required.

Through this model, nurseries start to see that the true cost of a herbicide application also factors in the labor required to apply it. Building an effective weed management program is important — making the program cost-effective makes a notable difference in the bottom line.

4 | How do growers go about building a cost-effective weed control program?

When nursery growers manage their herbicide budget, they often calculate the total cost per acre of control. To calculate the true cost, nurseries should look at the total cost per month of control per acre.

Typically, products that offer longer residual control can naturally reduce the frequency of reapplication and clean-up applications, because they last longer. Over time, this leads to a reduction in overall labor and product costs. On the other hand, products that are less expensive up front often offer shorter residual control — which means they require more applications and more labor, leading to an overall higher cost.

5 | Can you give us an example of how total product costs can vary?

Cost-effective weed control programs take a circumspective approach, factoring in the total cost of an application — which goes beyond the initial price tag.

For example, a product offering up to 4 months residual would need to be applied twice in order to achieve similar results to a herbicide like Marengo®, which offers up to 8 months residual control. Although the shorter-lived product has a lower upfront cost, the labor requirement is double that of a longer-lasting solution.

Bayer recently calculated the total cost of some of the herbicides on the market. It’s available on our website at www.EnvironmentalScience.Bayer.US/Marengo-cost-in-use.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS Bayer CropScience LP, Environmental Science Division, 2 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. For additional product information, call toll-free 1-800-331-2867. Not all products are registered in all states. Bayer, the Bayer Cross and Marengo are registered trademarks of Bayer. ©2017 Bayer CropScience LP. ES-818-MAR-327-A-R1