Mow and Snow is considering the introduction of Foamstream by Weedingtech, an environmentally-friendly weed-killing solution. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Mow and Snow assess herbicide solution

Mow and Snow is considering the introduction of Foamstream by Weedingtech, an environmentally-friendly weed-killing solution.

Bylaws in the City of Fernie prohibit the use of herbicides. Foamstream provides the same service as a herbicide through the application of heat to the weed in the form of hot foam.

‘The foam acts as a thermal blanket, keeping the heat on the weed long enough to kill it. The density of the foam is such that it doesn’t blow away in the wind or wash away with rain,’ reads the description on the Weedingtech website.

The foam is made from 100 per cent biodegradable, organic materials. This makes it safe and sustainable, says Weedingtech. Compared to some herbicides, Foamstream is not harmful to animals or humans.

However, Foamstream is a weed-killing solution for hardscapes and small bodies of water. This cannot be used on lawns, it will also kill the grass.

Global Roadway Maintenance Inc. (GRM Inc.) is a contractor of commercial properties, for which Mow and Snow is a vendor. GRM Inc. is considering new ways to control weeds in hardscapes. After hearing about Foamstream, Mow and Snow decided to have a demo and test the new system.

Aside from the benefits of an environmentally friendly weed-killing solution, Mow and Snow owner, Cam Mertz, sees a few issues with the product, the first being high cost of operation.

As well, different types of grasses require different treatment methods. Broadleaf plants are more strongly affected by the foam, which prevents the leaf from feeding through photosynthesis. However, grasses take longer to treat because of their deeper root systems.

Mertz is afraid that a large grass-treatment operation may require several return-trips.

“It will be interesting to see what the kill is, and see what comes back,” he said.

After the Foamstream was applied, Mertz reached out and grabbed a handful of foam. Shaking it off, he rubbed his hands together and was pleased to see there was no greasy residue left on his hands.

“After you’re done, it doesn’t leave a trace of anything,” said Foamstream WeedingTech service tech, Glenn Ferris.

“The syrup is just (made of) plant oils, and sugars,” he added.

After treating an area in the parking lot beside Barkside Pets, Mertz inquired as to how long it would take for weeds to grow back.

“Most of it’s sterilized,” said Ferris. “A lot of the stuff we’ve done in the spring… nine weeks later and we’ve only got a few weeds coming back.”

Ferris also explained that the reappearance of weeds depends on the type of weed, as well as the area and how much seed is brought in through the air.

Foamstream flows and 12L per minute, and the product at 0.2L per minute. A fully loaded truck carries 800 Litres of water and 35 Litres of product. The cost of the product itself is roughly $13.50 per litre.

Ferris admitted there are similar products that do similar tasks, however he believes that foam is more effective.

“The foam not only strips the waxy cuticle off of the leaves to help penetrate into the plant, but it holds and retains the heat longer,” he said. “Steam evaporates so fast.”

Asked what got him interested in this product, Ferris said, “Anything we can do to eliminate the sprays and pesticides and herbicides, I’m all for it.”

Currently in Western Canada, several communities on Vancouver Island as well as Vancouver, Prince George and Edmonton have adopted this weed treatment method.