Understanding Herbicides: Types, Mechanisms, and Application Methods

  • , by Agriplex India
  • 3 min reading time

Maintaining a healthy and weed-free garden or agricultural field requires effective weed control. Herbicides play a crucial role in achieving this goal by selectively eliminating unwanted plants, commonly known as weeds. In this blog post, we will delve into the different types of herbicides, how they work, and the various methods of application.

What are Herbicides?

Herbicides are chemical substances specifically formulated to control or eliminate unwanted plants, commonly referred to as weeds. They are an integral part of weed management strategies in agriculture, horticulture, landscaping, and other areas where plant growth needs to be controlled. Herbicides are designed to selectively or non-selectively target and kill or inhibit the growth of unwanted plants while minimizing harm to desired plants.

types of herbicides

Types of Herbicides:

Herbicides can be classified into several categories based on their mode of action and target weeds. Let's explore the main types:

a) Selective Herbicides:

Selective herbicides are designed to control specific types of weeds while minimizing harm to desired plants. They target particular weed species based on their genetic makeup, growth stage, or specific metabolic processes.

b) Non-selective Herbicides:

Non-selective herbicides are broad-spectrum weed killers that effectively eliminate most plant species. They are commonly used in non-crop areas, such as sidewalks, driveways, and fence lines, where no specific plants need to be preserved.

c) Pre-emergent Herbicides:

Pre-emergent herbicides are applied before weed seeds germinate. They create a barrier in the soil, preventing weed seedlings from emerging. These herbicides are particularly effective for controlling annual weeds and grasses.

d) Post-emergent Herbicides:

Post-emergent herbicides are applied after weeds have already emerged. They can be further divided into two categories:

  • Contact Herbicides: These herbicides kill only the plant parts they come into direct contact with. They are effective against annual weeds but may not eliminate the weed's roots, allowing regrowth.
  • Systemic Herbicides: Systemic herbicides are absorbed by the plant and translocated throughout its tissues, including the roots. They provide a more thorough control of the weed by targeting both foliage and root systems. Systemic herbicides are effective against perennial weeds.


Mechanism of Action:

Understanding how herbicides work is essential to make informed choices and ensure their optimal use. Here are the primary mechanisms of action for herbicides:

Photosystem Inhibition:

Some herbicides disrupt a plant's ability to use sunlight for energy production through photosynthesis. They target specific enzymes or pigments involved in photosynthesis, causing the buildup of toxic compounds within the plant. As a result, the weed cannot produce enough energy and eventually dies.

Growth Regulation:

Certain herbicides interfere with plant growth hormones, disrupting normal growth processes. They affect cell division, elongation, or differentiation, leading to stunted growth or abnormal development in targeted weeds.

 Amino Acid Synthesis Inhibition:

Herbicides in this category disrupt the production of essential amino acids in plants. They block specific enzymes responsible for amino acid synthesis, depriving the weed of the necessary building blocks for protein production. This disruption eventually causes the plant to die.

Herbicides Action

Methods of Herbicide Application:

To achieve the best results and minimize the risk of environmental contamination, herbicides should be applied using appropriate methods. The choice of application method depends on the target area, weed species, and herbicide type. Here are some common methods:

a) Foliar Application:

The foliar application involves spraying herbicides directly onto the weed foliage. This method is suitable for both selective and non-selective herbicides. It provides good coverage and allows systemic herbicides to translocate throughout the plant.

b) Soil Application:

For pre-emergent herbicides or products designed to control weeds in the soil, soil application is preferred. Herbicides can be applied as granules, incorporated into the soil, or sprayed on the soil surface. They form a barrier or residual activity that prevents weed seed germination or seedling growth.

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Herbicides are valuable tools for managing weeds and maintaining healthy vegetation in gardens and agricultural fields. Understanding the different types of herbicides, their mechanisms of action, and the appropriate methods of application allows for effective weed control while minimizing environmental impact. When using herbicides, it is crucial to follow label instructions, employ proper safety measures, and consider alternative weed control methods whenever possible.


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