Natural weed killer products and techniques that work

There are plenty of effective natural weed killer products. This is particularly so for the garden, but there are plenty of good ways to beat weeds on the farm.

First off: what is a weed?

The simplest definition of a weed is a plant growing where someone doesn't want it. But two key additions to that are

  • weeds do particularly well in certain environments and
  • we have bred weeds to do well in conditions that suit our crops.

So, a weed is a plant growing in an environment which suits it, and where someone doesn't want it.

Key point: Because a crop plant and a weed cannot exist in the same space, anywhere there is a weed, your crop is not doing well.

So you might want to find some natural weed killer products and techniques that work for you.

When most people talk about beating weeds without chemicals, they mean doing it without the established artificial chemicals.

However, even natural is not always safe - you wouldn't want to drink or breathe in some of the natural chemicals that kill weeds.

The best natural weed killer products and techniques to beat weeds without unpleasant and costly artificial chemicals fall into "Smart management". They include:

  • Biological weed controls
  • Mechanical weeding
  • Manual weeding
  • Grazing management of weeds
  • Heat weeding
  • Steam weeding
  • Farm hygiene, including
    • Working from clean to dirty
    • Quarantine and
    • Clean seed for sowing
    and as a last resort,
  • Natural weed killer chemicals

Natural weed killer products and techniques

Biological weed controls

Biological control involves using one organism (plant, animal or microbe) to damage, limit or control another. It includes using natural (or non-natural but living) enemies to regulate an organism's population at a lower average than would happen without them.

The biological control may be any sort of organism that has a benefit that includes controlling a pest or undesired organism. The biological control organisms are generally not directly harvested. They include:

  • insects, mites and similar small animals that eat the weed
  • insects and the like that cause problems for the weed through interfering with reproduction etc.
  • diseases that limit the plant's ability to grow or to reproduce and thus slow or prevent its spread. This may involve diseases that kill the pests or they may cause diseases that displace other more harmful diseases by colonizing plants and making it harder for the more infectious forms of disease to get a hold.

Remember that biological controllers lag behind pests even if they are managed well.

Manual weeding

Manual weeding is the oldest practice used against weeds. This involves individually removing the weed or damaging it in such a way that it cannot be a problem. This is obviously very effective on a small scale or where labor is cheap compared to the value of the crop.

Mechanical weeding

Mechanical weeding is the modern expansion of manual weeding where the weeding is done by a powered device such as a tillage implement behind a tractor or a hand propelled weeder which operates faster or more effectively than manual weeding.

Grazing management of weeds

Grazing management is an ideal way of managing weeds if you have grazing animals. They will turn most weeds into meat, milk, wool or some other animal product at the same time as eliminating a problem. So this saves money as well as makes money and saves effort.

Heat weeding

Heat weeding includes steam weeding, solarization, flame weeding and heat disinfestation of growing media.

Farm hygiene

Farm hygiene refers to keeping things clean. This includes:

  • not transferring weeds from one part of the farm to another. For example, before moving an implement from a field that has a lot of weeds to a field that doesn't, it makes sense to clean the implement and tractor to minimize the transfer of weed seeds.
  • keeping weeds out by ensuring that any produce you buy in (such as hay) is from a clean source with minimal contamination of weeds.
  • keeping weeds at bay by using an approach called Quarantine.

Natural weed killer products you can make or buy

Natural weed killer chemicals are available if none of the above methods works effectively for you. Most of these are combinations of natural substances that are individually effective against weeds. Some can be made up by you, others you will have to buy. Note the warning:

A warning:

Even if a product is on sale or a recipe is available for it, you need to check whether it is legal in your state or province.

Also, do not assume that just because a product is natural it is not toxic. Some natural products are toxic to you or your animals.

Department of agriculture or primary industries and other advisors

For further information on any of these products and approaches, check with your advisor, such as an agricultural consultant, a state or provincial department of agriculture or primary industries, the local extension service and any bulletins issued by relevant authorities. Many of these organizations will make this information available on their website. Go to the website of the relevant organization and search for the product or technique you are thinking of using.

In summary

There are many natural weed killer products and techniques available for farmers, ranchers, orchardists, gardeners, graziers, vegetable growers, foresters and landscapers.

Use even natural weed killer products with care

Whatever methods or products you use, do so with care, because anything we do in farming can cause unforeseen damage. Even if it involves natural weed killer products or natural weed killer techniques.