Q: My company is interested in getting involved in the business of applying silvicultural chemicals to forestlands. We have already implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) on our logging operations and would like to do the same for this new service we are offering our clients. Does the Texas Forest Service have any recommended guidelines for the application of silvicultural chemicals, and if so, what are they?
A: We sure do! The use of silvicultural chemicals can be very important in establishing new pine plantations as well as releasing mature ones to jumpstart their growth. In Texas alone, more than 250,000 acres of commercial timberland were sprayed last year. As more landowners learn about the benefits of these chemicals, there is a greater responsibility to ensure that water quality will be protected.
The Texas Forest Service has published guidelines that cover the handling and application of silvicultural chemicals in the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices – Bluebook. These recommendations are designed to prevent the direct or indirect application of forest chemicals to open water sources.
The first step in following BMPs when applying herbicides or fertilizers is the planning and information stage. Read all of the manufacturer’s labels for the chemicals that you will be using. It is important to know the chemical properties of these compounds. Certain chemicals react differently when they come in contact with soil or water. Other factors to consider in this step are topography, location of water sources, weather, and treatment area. Unfavorable weather, such as high winds, can lead to aerial drifts into sensitive areas.
The water used for mixing chemicals should be carried to the field in water-only tanks. Adding chemicals to this should be done only at the application site and away from any water sources. If a spill occurs, quickly shovel a dike around it and use absorbent material. This will soak up the fluid and prevent it from flowing into bodies of water. Always notify the proper authorities during these situations.
Leaving well marked buffers, or SMZs, between open water and the treatment area will prevent the entry of chemicals into waterways. It is also important to have a spray device that is capable of immediate shutoff without any dripping. Erosion sensitive areas (steep slopes, gullies, or drainages) should be avoided when applying herbicides.
Triple rinse all chemical containers before disposal. Pour this diluted solution back into the mixing tank so it can be applied to the treatment area. It is important to follow all of the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding cleanup and disposal of materials. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.
* This article was published in the August 2001 issue of the Texas Logger