Water quality impacting the effectiveness of herbicides and pesticides

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va (WHSV) — The Virginia Cooperative Extension is trying to get the word out to farmers to test their water quality. Studies have shown certain levels of pH and hardness can make herbicides and pesticides less effective, impacting crop yield during the growing season.

Doug Horn with the Virginia Cooperative Extension said hardness over 150 parts per million and pH over 7.3 causes herbicides and pesticides to become less effective, and he said this describes most well water in Rockingham County. He said he's seen pH levels as high as 8.0 and hardness up to 300 parts per million in the past after testing residential water quality locally. This is the first time they will be testing water for pesticide and herbicide spraying.

There are conditioning agents available to counteract the pH and hardness of the water, and allow the herbicides and pesticides to reach peak performance. Not getting good control over weeds and pests with the first application of pesticides and herbicides can mean a lower crop yield.

"Over time using low rates, it's kind of like a vaccination. It's conditioning the weeds, it doesn't kill them, and therefore they get more resistant to the product," explained Horn.

It's important to test it now to get the results in before the spring spraying season. You can pick up a sampling kit for $25.00 at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office. Samples must be returned there between Monday and Wednesday of next week so results can come in by mid March.