Landfull October 20, 2015

I’m guessing that in the near future we won’t have ‘landfill sites’ any more, they will all be ‘Land –full sites’. It’s only a matter of common sense that if you keep filling holes with rubbish, then eventually there won’t be any ground left to fill?

I’m reminded of scenes from the Sopranos when the waggons of waste are diverted into a local reservoir, or scenes from the Simpsons when Homers plans to upgrade the bin collection service runs into trouble when waste pumped into caves erupts on the golf course.

People often ask me – ‘when the Japanese Knotweed is taken off site to landfill – what do they do with it?’

Well…it’s not ‘rocket science’ – they just dig a big hole and put the waste into it. Nothing glamorous, nothing clever, no nuclear proof thick walls of concrete…just a big hole. In fact landfill sites are often rife with Japanese knotweed where casual tipping has left areas of infested material unburied.

Now correct me if I’m wrong here but there are only so many ‘big holes’ that can be filled before the entire world just becomes one big landfill site. I can remember two sites local to me in Glossop where there were huge landfill sites – now these areas are grassed over and grazed by cattle. Another one in Buxton is now a golf course – where previously seagulls flocked and large machines moved piles of rubbish around – there is now an amenity area capped with soil and heavily used for recreation.

Now I’m assuming that somewhere somebody will have a record of this and future generations will be aware that they cannot dig into or develop on these areas? ….

I’m foreseeing a patchwork of landfill sites all over the UK like a giant jig saw….THAT EVENTUALLY LEAVES NO SPACE FOR ANYTHING…

Here at Japanese Knotweed Solutions we explore every avenue BEFORE we suggest using a Landfill facility –

Don’t get me wrong here; occasionally there is nothing else we can do other than remove to landfill. Site development might not fit with the proposed alternative option and often build timescales just don’t allow the lengthy period required for chemical treatment.

More and more now we see development being maximised on site due to the need to build as many properties as possible – this results in minimal land left for burial of waste on site meaning that excavation to off-site facility is the only answer.

Screening of material is often recommended as a way of reducing the amount of material taken off site to landfill – however the screened material cannot be taken off site as ‘knotweed free’. Once separated the resulting screened soil should ideally be buried beneath a capping layer and monitored. This relies on having space available for this part of the process… and with current build densities being so high this is often not feasible.

Changes in legislation will I’m sure eventually lead to a refusal to accept Japanese Knotweed at landfill sites …and I’m sure this is on the current horizon. Companies building new houses will have to be creative with how they deal with contaminated land and be fully up to speed with ALL strategies available to them for dealing with Japanese Knotweed.

Japanese Knotweed Solutions will continue to be the best service provider in the industry and continue to make sure our clients always get the best advice and the most viable options. If land-fill sites are ‘landfull’ we will have all the alternative strategies on hand to ensure you hit your build target.


Mike C

Why we should love invasive species. Or not. October 20, 2015

There is a trendy argument doing the rounds – possibly based on a certain recent book about why invader species could be nature’s salvation. I haven’t read the book, and I won’t name the author, or criticise it – because the argument put forward is no doubt more nuanced than portrayed in the headlines.

However, I have come across people genuinely arguing that ‘invasive species represent evolution’, that they are ‘better suited to the habitat than native species’ and have read headlines that suggest that we should learn to embrace all invasive non-native species.

It is these ideas that I am looking to challenge – particularly with regard to invasive plants.

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between native- and non-native invasive species. Our native invasive plants (like bindweed, bramble, nettles and bracken) are very well adapted to the conditions that they live in, having developed traits which make them successful in our environment.

Although they are often hard to get rid of, tend to crowd out or strangle other plants and to form monoculture stands, they also generally support a variety of insect, bird and/or animal species which have evolved alongside them, providing food, or habitat, or both.

Non-native invasive plants have evolved to be successful in their native environments – but in most cases, they are not successful enough to become invasive in their native range. They are just one plant among many others, competing to survive under pressure from competition and more significantly from predation by insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses which exist in the environment they evolved in.

Once the plants are introduced to a new environment, they are often removed from the pressures of the predators in their native habitat, they effectively have a head-start on all the other plants around them. Native insects, animals and birds are rarely adapted to the habitats the plants provide and (as is the case with species like rhododendron), the plant soon becomes the only living thing in the area.

Of course, there are exceptions; in fact, many non-native species are affected by similar parasites to those found in their native range – which is a reason why they don’t go on to become invasive. Some of our native fauna can interact even with the most invasive of alien species – bees love Himalayan balsam, for example. Of course, this works in the plant’s favour – as without effective pollination to produce its seeds, this annual plant could not survive.

In the very long term, however, parasites will evolve to predate Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, and it’s conceivable that they could return to being very niche plants, rather than the widespread invaders that they are today.

Introducing non-native species is not evolution as we know it – and evolution will eventually catch up with these species – but in the meantime, the majority of them offer our native fauna little or nothing that isn’t already available from native plants, and they compete with our native flora to the point where valuable habitats and biodiversity are lost, as well as knock-on and trickle down effects on our waterways, embankments and things like flooding.

To argue that we should embrace the grey squirrel is not something I would particularly disagree with – although I wouldn’t oppose conservation efforts for red squirrels.

Humans (and probably pretty much everything else in the British eco-system) can probably adapt to what is essentially the like-for-like swap of one squirrel species for another. An evolutionary niche has been filled, and things are more-or-less as they were before.

That may or may not be the case for things like signal crayfish, and killer shrimp, which are able to predate on different species to their closest native relations. However, in these cases, it’s still conceivable that the food chain would be kept more-or-less in-tact – with predators and prey of the substitute species remaining in a position where they can all eventually develop and maintain fairly stable populations.

However, for for zebra mussels or quagga mussels, which are capable of multiplying prodigiously, occupying large amounts of space and surface area and removing significant amounts of food which would otherwise have been available to a wide range of other species, we see a more problematic set of circumstances.

These circumstances are further enhanced where plant species are concerned, when physical space (soil) becomes the prime factor for competition. Invasive plant species are not “filling an ecological niche” by outperforming a single equivalent species; they are directly competing for space with all sorts of different native plants –which often have complicated interlocking relationships with the wider ecosystem. In this case, the successful invaders are often basically destroying habitats in favour of a monoculture which provide no food or shelter for native species.

Other native insects and animals further up the chain who relied on the aforementioned species are displaced, and the effect on the wider ecosystem is significant.

So when I see simplistic arguments (especially when they say invasive species are good) I am immediately sceptical. While humans may well be able to adapt in limited, short-term ways, we are heavily reliant on our existing ecosystem, and it’s a bit of a push to expect UK wildlife to undergo millions of years of evolution because of human activity – and it’s completely ignoring the issue of biodiversity loss, which is the principal problem with the most problematic invaders…

Chris Oliver
Operation Manager – JKSL

Autumn is here October 20, 2015

We’ve seen Japanese knotweed flourishing across the country with lush green heart shape leaves and small white flowers, it’s no wonder the Victorians were a fan.

The days are now beginning to shorten and the air is that little crisper in the morning. We can feel the changes in the season; autumn is here. It isn’t just us that can feel the change of season, Japanese knotweed is noticing too.

As we move into the cooler autumn months something is happening to Japanese knotweed as it prepares for the dormant period ahead. Energy that the plant has converted through photosynthesis is drawn down and stored deep in the rhizome system of the plant, ready for a growth spurt the following spring.

By applying folia herbicide treatment now we can hijack the plants own biological system to draw the chemical deep into the rhizome network. The translocation of herbicide deep into rhizome will have a big impact on the plant and its viability next year.

Don’t leave it till next year, start herbicide treatments now and get the plant to do the hard work for you.


Stuart Morris
Surveyor – JKSL