Ian Benison, chief executive of newly launched SLIC Training – an accredited company delivering specific training courses in the elimination of the invasive weed, is calling for clear evidence that the introduction of predators from Japan will not harm the country’s own native species of plants and insects.
Scientists are asking government approval to introduce two natural predators which appear to feed specifically on Japanese Knotweed – a sap-sucking psyllid insect (Aphalara itadori) and a leaf spot fungus from the genus Mycosphaerella.
“I think we have to exercise extreme caution before introducing a foreign species into this country. Potentially it could do more harm than good, as in many cases the introduced species has gone on to become as much a problem itself as the pest it was originally brought in to control. We have to take a great deal of care that we don’t upset the balance of nature,” says Ian Benison
Ian advocates the control of Japanese Knotweed by stem injection, emphasising that the method is effective because it delivers minimal chemicals directly to the root system.
“While I welcome research on alternative weed control measures and have been watching the results of laboratory trials with interest, I feel that we have along way to go yet before we can confidently say we have a method of control which is 100 per cent safe and secure.”
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(Japanese knotweed was introduced to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental plant but has become the plague of waterways, sports grounds and building sites, where it is costly and time consuming to eliminate. Growing to up to three metres or four metres high in just four months, it spreads through an aggressive system of underground stems or rhizomes, quickly obliterates vegetation growing nearby and can grow up through tarmac. See special feature on this subject The Landscaper April 009)
Ian Benison, Chief Executive SLIC Training