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Herbicide Program

Product labels and the material safety data sheets are provided for each product used in Polk-Burnett's right-of-way program, updated  August 23, 2016.

Product LabelsHerbicide application

Safety Data Sheet

Frequently asked questions about the herbicide program

Why are herbicides used?
Limited amounts of herbicides are selectively applied to control the growth of woody stemmed vegetation that can grow into overhead power lines and cause outages or fires. This application has proven to be safe and the most economical and effective approach to maintaining Polk-Burnett's

What kind of vegetation are you applying herbicides to?
Because trees and overhead power lines do not mix, woody stemmed vegetation will receive application and over time allow the native grasses and plants to prosper. This not only creates a safe work zone for our field crews, but also a desirable environment for much of the wildlife in our area.

Who will be applying herbicide to my property?
Polk-Burnett has contracted this work to Osmose Utilities, a 75-year-old company specializing in herbicide application.

What method do you use to apply the product?
Trained licensed applicators, using a hand wand and backpack container, walk the rights-of-way to selectively target woody stemmed vegetation only. Tanker trucks and broadcast spraying simply are not necessary.

How do I know what you are doing is safe?
The herbicides we use are similar to products found in your local gardening store and have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Product labels and safety data sheets (SDS) containing all the information pertaining to the products can be viewed by clicking on the links above.

If I am on the “no application” list, how will the vegetation be controlled on my property?
The alternative approach to applying herbicide is mechanical mowing. Mechanical mowing is a continuous process used where most appropriate. Major concerns with mowing include the aesthetics afterwards, costs, noise levels while performing the work, prone to creating ruts, and erosion.

How often will Polk-Burnett apply products to my property?
Currently, when a right-of-way is initially cleared, herbicide is applied for three consecutive years. When this initial application cycle has been completed, applications will occur once every three years. Polk-Burnett continually evaluates the cycle lengths to see if they can be lengthened as the woody vegetation growth becomes less prominent. As the cycle progresses, less woody vegetation is present and accordingly, less herbicide needs to be applied.

How will I be notified about when and where you will be spraying?
All members receive annual notification through the May edition of our “Powerlines” newsletter via mail or e-mail. A personal notification postcard is sent out to all properties that are receiving herbicide application for the first time or where there has been a reported change in property ownership.

When will you be applying product to my property?
As this is a foliar application, it is crucial for the leaves to develop before the product is applied. Applications generally begin around June 1 and continue until complete or September 15, whichever occurs first.

What if I do not want herbicides applied to my property?
That’s ok. Polk-Burnett prefers to utilize herbicides as it is considerably less expensive than mowing and helps to hold expenses down. However, we understand that it is your property and will honor your request to not apply herbicides on your property. Simply contact Polk-Burnett to add your name and related information to our “no application” database.

What if I only want application to certain parts of my property?
This is a common request, such as near a garden, and most often it is not necessary to apply herbicides in these areas as undergrowth is not generally present where the property is maintained with grass or gardens. However, if woody stemmed growth is present, certain areas can be avoided at your request. Polk-Burnett would much prefer to work with a property owner and avoid certain areas rather than not apply to the whole property. Again, it is the member’s responsibility to inform Polk-Burnett of those areas where application should be avoided.

What is my responsibility as a property owner if I decline the use of herbicide on my property?
If you decline the use of herbicide on your property the first step is to notify Polk-Burnett of your decision. Next, we ask that you place signs beneath the overhead power line to help our contractors identify your property boundaries. Polk-Burnett cannot be responsible for product being applied on your property if we are not contacted by the member or if signs are not put out to identify the property boundaries.

Where do I get signs?
You can make your own signs or Polk-Burnett can supply them for you (click here for a printable sign).  The signs should include your Polk-Burnett location number (which can be easily located on your bill) and should be protected from the weather in some way (laminated or put into a plastic baggy) so that your property can be identified easily.

What if I walk across an area where herbicides have been applied?
It is not recommended walking through a treated area until the vegetation has dried completely. Exposure may occur from walking across an area still damp from a foliar treatment. However, the dose you would receive from this type of activity is not likely to cause any harm.

Is it safe to later pick and eat wild berries?
You should not consume berries that have been treated with herbicide.

How will this affect my dogs, horses, etc?
The herbicide Polk-Burnett uses affects plants only. An active ingredient within the herbicide disrupts the growth process within the plant by affecting enzymes unique to plants. These herbicides do not have a similar effect on animals or insects. However, any compound in a high enough concentration can be toxic. The EPA requires extensive testing before being introduced to the market to assure that there are no unintended effects on pets, livestock or wildlife.

If I am an organic farmer, what are my responsibilities?
Polk-Burnett is happy to work with registered organic farmers. The first step is to notify Polk-Burnett of your organic status. However, even though the application is low volume and is performed when there is little to no wind, organic farmers are required to maintain a 25-foot buffer from the edge of the right-of-way.

How do I know these applicators are trained and licensed?
To apply herbicide in Wisconsin, it is required by the state that all applicators obtain certification prior to performing application. It is allowable for new applicators to apply herbicides under a temporary permit while obtaining a license. However, they must be directly supervised at all times and within speaking distance of a trained, licensed applicator. Polk-Burnett requires contractors to provide copies of their certification at the pre-application meeting.

Who do I contact about limiting herbicide application or getting added to or removed from the “no application” list?
To discuss how your property is maintained or questions pertaining to herbicide application, please contact the manager of rights-of-way at 800-421-0283, ext. 329 or by  email.


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