Mike Maurer, roadside district manager II with Pennsylvania DOT, works closely with Pennsylvania State University researchers to identify the best weed-control solutions for the state's roadsides.
Measure herbicides to ensure maximum effectiveness at the lowest possible level of active ingredient.

In 2004 PennDOT and Penn State tested two new herbicides, BASF Professional Vegetation Management's Plateau and Overdrive, to see if they'd provide equal or better growth regulation and broadleaf weed control than the department's existing herbicide mix. Weeds like mile-a-minute weed, foxtail, poison hemlock, a variety of thistles, ragweed, and teasel overrun Pennsylvania's rights of way if not treated quickly, but desirable plants—such as fescue grasses—need to stay in place to control erosion.

In 2005, test plots indicated that Plateau controlled late-season foxtail, an undesirable grass that germinates from late May throughout summer and had been difficult to control with existing bareground herbicides, while providing growth suppression and seedhead control.

Overdrive worked as well, if not better, than other tested products to control mile-a-minute weed along with other broadleaf weeds.

“I was surprised to see the results rendered on foxtail, and happy to know I'd finally found a solution to a longstanding problem,” says Maurer. “Before these trials, I hadn't found any mixes that provided season-long control.”

Using a growth-regulator mix that consists of 2 ounces of Plateau for fescue seedhead suppression and 6 ounces of Overdrive for broadleaf weed control, Maurer has saved more than $11/acre because of the reduced labor costs, as well as the lower active ingredient level and product cost of the BASF herbicides.

“That difference really adds up at the end of the year,” Maurer says. “And it certainly helps me justify my program when budget discussions come under annual review.”

He also revamped his bareground program, incorporating Plateau into a solution that keeps guardrails completely clear of vegetation. The bare-ground application is the first treatment of Maurer's season, which begins in April or May. Crews apply a tank mix of 10 ounces of Plateau and 2½ quarts of BASF's Pendulum Aqua-Cap along with Krovar and Oust Extra, both made by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.“We'll keep researching the latest and greatest products and procedures out there,” says Maurer. “By doing that in the past, we've managed to take care of problematic vegetation and save budget dollars.”