LOCAL FARMERS have teamed up to tackle Giant Hogweed along a large stretch of riverbank in East Lothian.

Roundup manufacturer Bayer has donated some of its glyphosate herbicide to aid the community in their efforts to combat the weed – which makes the headlines every summer as members of the public are injured by its poisonous sap.

Many farmers have voluntarily given up their time to spray the weed, with 50 qualified farmer operators using knapsack sprayers to apply Roundup alongside the river to minimise the impact the weed is having on the biodiversity of the riparian and aquatic environment.

Local farmer James Wyllie was asked to co-ordinate the initiative: “The original proposal was for 10 miles of the River Tyne, but there was such a high level of support from the landowners to participate in a project where all the riparian owners were acting together that it has expanded way beyond the original plan. It now covers about 48 miles of the River Tyne from A68 to the sea and including two major tributaries, Birns Water and Colstoun Water in an area with around 75 riparian landowners participating.”

Mr Wyllie continued: “It’s going to take five years to see a real difference, due to Hogweed seeds which are embedded in the soil and will germinate in future years. We aim that no plant should be allowed to flower, as each can produce 10,000 seeds, and any flower heads that are produced need to be removed and disposed of safely.”

He added that Roundup has been key to the success of the project: “I’ve used it for 25 years and it is one of very few products that is approved for aquatic use; there are no ground residues and it works by contact onto the leaves only.”