Master Utility Brush in ROWs for Safer Sites

Herbicides can reduce costs by controlling utility brush challenges to help keep utility sites safe.

Utility right of way managers are challenged with controlling incompatible vegetation such as brush and trees along thousands of miles of electrical transmission infrastructure. Fortunately, modern methods of herbicidal control can significantly reduce costs and increase efficiency as part of an integrated vegetation management (IVM) plan for utility brush control.

In this issue:

Control Utility Brush Right the First Time

Retreatment of missed brush or resprouts is time-consuming and expensive. Missed brush can also mean site safety is compromised. That’s why consistent performance is a high priority for Dave Krause, vegetation management specialist at Arborchem Products, which provides integrated vegetation management (IVM) services across the United States.

Doing the job right the first time is key to keeping applicator expenses low and exceeding contract performance expectations. Krause says effective vegetation management takes a combination of chemical and mechanical control, and shifting maintenance efforts to more chemical control increases efficiency.

Doing the job right the first time helps manage utility brush challenges that threaten safety.

Doing the job right the first time helps manage utility brush challenges that threaten safety.
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Mesquite outcompetes desirable grasses for water, nutrients and sunlight.
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“Chemical control offers many performance, efficiency and safety advantages over mechanical-only methods such as cutting and mowing,” says Krause. “That’s why herbicides have taken an increasingly important role in IVM programs over the past two decades. Some newer herbicides are offering further advantages in selectivity, low use rate, multiple modes of action and soil residual activity to prevent new woody seedlings.”

Maintaining a good public image for customers is an important part of a vegetation manager’s job. “We promote use of selective herbicides to minimize brownout on surrounding vegetation," says Krause. “Whether it’s spot treatment with backpack sprayers or spraying large sections of brush with a boom truck, a selective herbicide that controls brush while allowing non-target plants to stay green is a big benefit. It looks better and reduces maintenance expenses over time as healthy grass crowds out woody vegetation that is incompatible with electric utility infrastructure, highway safety and pipeline security.”

Herbicides with low use rates and multiple modes of action improve productivity. “Dealing with ounces, not gallons, of herbicide saves time by reducing refill stops,” says Krause. “Multiple modes of action in one product can eliminate mixing products in the field, which reduces the chance of waste and errors. It really improves efficiency when one product controls brush at the foliar and root levels, as well as provides soil residual activity that controls newly germinated brush seedlings.”

Krause has found those benefits when using DuPont™ Viewpoint® and Streamline® herbicides. He also appreciates the support he gets from DuPont.

“We like to show customers photos of treated rights of way compared to untreated areas. We can go back two or three years and see a big difference in treated areas,” he adds. “Longer-term control reduces the need for resprays and saves our customers money.

“We emphasize the benefits of using branded products. Guaranteed active ingredient content and product support is a huge benefit. Performance is more consistent than with generic products, and product support from our DuPont rep is just a phone call away. With generic herbicides, you just don’t get that level of product support and technical expertise.”


IVM versus Mechanical Control Reduces Costs and Outages

Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation (CECC) sees right of way vegetation management as a way to assure reliable electrical service and reduce costs.

With customers in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, CECC maintains nearly 9,200 miles of power lines. Much of that transmission and distribution infrastructure rolls through heavily wooded, rugged terrain. The total maintenance area is more than 25,000 acres.

Seeking to minimize outages and maximize maintenance efficiency, CECC and Finley Engineering recently analyzed the cost of using herbicides in an integrated vegetation management (IVM) program versus a mechanical-only vegetation control program. The bottom line: savings of $50 million to $70 million with a herbicide-based IVM plan, compared with labor-intensive mechanical vegetation control on a five- to six-year maintenance cycle. Find the full report, Cost Analysis for Integrated Vegetative Management Plan, at the CECC website.

Engineers who prepared the CECC report noted that mechanical cutting tends to increase stem counts by 35 percent, leading to more incompatible vegetation challenges over time. Using herbicides that control the entire plant, including roots, reduces stem counts by 35 to 50 percent, which allows compatible vegetation to become established. As a result, mechanical control costs climbed in each successive cycle, while herbicide costs dropped.

The study also considered the additional time it takes crews to reach outage sites when fallen trees impede access. Assuming that one-quarter of the 4,238 outages recorded by the CECC in 2009 presented an access issue due to incompatible vegetation, merely an additional half hour of crew time to clear vegetation at each outage site would have represented 541 hours throughout the year. Apply an estimated crew rate of $237.50 per hour and that totals an annual cost of nearly $128,500.

The CECC findings were consistent with other studies, including a Northern Kentucky University report, Assessment of Frequent Cutting as a Plant Community Management Technique in Power Line Corridors, completed nearly 25 years ago with less efficient herbicides than those available today.


Mesquite: Stop Resprouts

Mesquite outcompetes desirable grasses for water, nutrients and sunlight. It remains green and growing while surrounding vegetation turns brown. Mesquite’s hardiness can challenge vegetation managers along utility and highway rights of way, especially as the plant transforms from low brush to trees that may reach 20 feet in height.

The primary reason mesquite is tough to control is its ability to resprout. This makes cutting, grazing or burning less effective.

Check out this case study to see the difference a timely application of DuPont™ Streamline® herbicide can make on mesquite control in utility right of ways. The DuPont field trial in Childress, Texas, compared two rates of Streamline® on land with heavy mesquite coverage. When applied at the maximum labeled rate, Streamline® provided exceptional control (92 percent more than two years after treatment) and, at lower rates, outperformed the standard treatment.

To successfully control mesquite, apply Streamline® in late spring to early summer when leaves are mature and dark green.


Streamline® and Viewpoint® Use Allowed for Expanded Brush Control

DuPont continues research to improve brush-control options with DuPont™ Viewpoint® and Streamline® herbicides to enhance utility and industrial site safety. Viewpoint® helps create safer utility sites and rights of way by providing reliable broad-spectrum control (see video) of hard-to-manage brush species and other weeds that can cause fires or interrupt power supply. Streamline® provides effective brush control in areas where desirable grasses should be maintained.

For lasting control of even more brush, hardwood and conifer species, add Krenite S brush control agent to the tank mix. Krenite S adds enhanced control without the timing limitations of glyphosate, so you can spread your workload into early fall.

New FIFRA Section 2(ee) recommendations allow application on additional brush species not specifically cited on the product labels.

  • Streamline® may now be used to control loblolly pine, Chinese privet and rubber rabbitbrush, and to suppress Virginia pine and sweetgum in high-volume foliar applications of 9.5 to 11.5 ounces per 100 gallons.
  • Viewpoint® may now be used to control eastern baccharis and honey locust at 13 to 20 ounces per 100 gallons, as well as control loblolly pine, Chinese privet and rubber rabbitbrush, and to suppress Virginia pine and yaupon in high-volume foliar applications of 16 to 20 ounces per 100 gallons.

These recommendations for Streamline® and Viewpoint® are permitted under FIFRA Section 2(ee) for control or suppression of additional weeds in non-cropland areas in all states except New Hampshire, New York and Texas. The 2(ee) expiration date is Dec. 31, 2016.

The information provided on this website is for reference only. Always refer to the product labels for complete details and directions for use.

DuPont™ Streamline® and Viewpoint® herbicides are for use in non-crop applications only and do not have a grazing tolerance.