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Scientists fail to kill Japanese knotweed after spending five years trying 19 methods

A team of Scientists from Swansea University have been researching how to get rid of Japanese knotweed for five years but have failed to come up with a definitive answer and solution. Despite this, homeowners are being told not to panic if a process of Japanese knotweed identification has found it on their property. The team, led by Professor Dan Eastwood, from Swansea University, looked at a range of methods (19 in total) that were aimed at controlling the plant, which is renowned worldwide as one of the most aggressively invasive species. The conclusion was that expensive treatments being lauded by private companies cannot guarantee a full, extensive and permanent removal of knotweed.

Professor Eastwood said: "We began focusing on knotweed at a time when there was a great deal of hysteria surrounding it."At the time, most information for people affected by the plant was largely based on anecdote. This led to the prospect of unscrupulous companies offering expensive and ineffective treatment solutions."

The team admitted that Japanese knotweed identification was a process that left homeowners in a nightmare, especially if they were in the process of attempting to sell the property. In some cases mortgages have been declined due to a search for how to get rid of Japanese knotweed leading to botched attempts by homeowners and certain companies. The research team tested more methods of control than had ever been trialled on an invasive plant species before and the large-scale field trial was used to replace long-standing methods and anecdotal information that was being used by homeowners to try and remove Japanese knotweed (unsuccessfully).

The team also suggests that the wrong type of herbicides, being used on a property where Japanese knotweed is present, used at the wrong time of year could lead to a greater impact on the immediate and surrounding environment and habitat, causing further unnecessary problems for all concerned. Despite the failure to come up with a definitive answer to the Japanese knotweed identification and removal problems that many homeowners face, the research team at Swansea University did have some advice and words of comfort for those who have suffered with the invasive plant in the past, or who continue to do so.

They believe they have come up with a 4-stage model that targets the seasonal cycle of the plant and uses lower levels of herbicide. They also want homeowners to know that there is no need to panic as knotweed can be controlled and won’t be a sure sign that your house is going to crumble around the edges and fall down.

You should look for a long-term plan that is slower to come to fruition, rather than a quick fix, using the right herbicides at the right time of year and always expect that it might come back at some point, even if it looks like it has gone from above ground once removed at first. Whatever you decide to do with the Japanese knotweed problem at your property, it is always best to seek the advice of professional removal teams as opposed to digging up the plant yourself, as you are likely to miss roots and its potential spread without a trained eye.

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