Landowner Education

Resisting outside pressure to apply more chemicals might require educating a landowner — or even a member of the board of supervisors — why it might be inappropriate to spray. The following points can be helpful when talking to someone whose weed control philosophy is based primarily on experience with row crops and lawns.

  • Roadside weed control bears no resemblance to row-crop weed control. Corn and soybeans are annual species maintained in bare soil, a practice that invites weeds and requires continual cultivation and herbicide use. Native seed mixes designed for roadsides create diverse stands of perennial vegetation that prevent weeds by occupying all available space. Overuse of herbicides works against this method of weed control.
  • Native prairie grasses and wildflowers may be tall and can appear unkempt, but these are the plant species most adapted to Iowa’s climate and growing conditions. Their extremely deep roots enable them to survive environmental stresses and their  unique metabolism allows them to grow tall and thrive during long, hot summers. Because of these characteristics, native plants outcompete weeds.
  • Broadleaf species (wildflowers) included in native seed mixes are part of the plan. They occupy a niche in the plant community otherwise used by weeds. They are not a threat to agriculture.
  • A pure stand of any grass is an unnatural condition sustainable only through the use of herbicide.
  • Overuse of herbicides in any roadside creates openings for weeds by weakening grasses and eliminating beneficial broadleaf species.