The latest observations from different test programmes confirm product performance and improved installation methods
Our changing world demands adaptation and innovative solutions – and those solutions must in turn respond to observation and learning. Accordingly, DuPont is committed to the ongoing evolution of its products and systems, subjecting them to rigorous examination in controlled testing environments. In this way, the company builds trust in its brands and, when appropriate, develops ways to enhance either the products or their application.
An important advance in the fight against invasive weeds (Japanese Knotweed in particular), Plantex® Platinium has undergone various field tests since its introduction in 2014. Non-chemical and non-mechanical control of damaging weeds is an essential, forward-thinking solution – and, in the absence of any recognised standards – DuPont has undertaken programmes with independent bodies to assess its own pioneering product.
Dealing with Japanese Knotweed is complex and very expensive; thus, the ideal method is one which optimises budget and performance, reduces labour and maintenance costs and minimises both the risk of the infestation spreading – and any environmental impact from herbicides. One fabric can answer all of those demands.
Over the course of five years Plantex® Platinium has been tested in natural environments, resulting in substantial evidence and confirmation to attest to its performance.
The problem of Japanese Knotweed is not restricted to any particular environment. It can threaten residential property values while also creating expensive problems and even safety issues for corporate premises and for technical or civil infrastructure. Three ongoing test sites for Plantex® Platinium have generated results from a variety of settings and conditions.
In the landscaped gardens of a residential development in Annemasse, France, Plantex® Platinium was installed in June 2014 and covered over with soil and grass. At various checks over the following 5 years, these communal gardens remained free of knotweed, bar some minor gaps along the edges of the fabric, where it meets the building’s structure. No perforations of the fabric itself were observed. The lawn areas remain in a robust and healthy condition.
In a dedicated test field in Bitterfeld, Germany, Plantex® Platinium was installed in September 2016. During regular checks, in which sections of the fabric were cut away and the underside revealed, each section was shown to have successfully contained the rhizomes (which are unable to attach to or penetrate the strong yet air and water-permeable non-woven structure of the fabric) while soil vitality and biodiversity was preserved.
In a major program that began in 2017 with a national railway body, a heavily infested surface area of over 480m2 divided into 9 different and confined test sites was fitted with Plantex® Platinium. Using a method of mowing, scraping, removing and then covering with gravel, and working in conjunction with Plantex® RootProtector for vertical containment of the root system, Plantex® Platinium was extensively installed, including along walls, slopes and roadsides. These sites were monitored over a three-year period and now the first full evaluation can be made.
The initial set of test fields was established in 2017 using the first generation of Plantex® Platinium and combining different installation methods such as varying sizes of simple overlaps and the use of tape to bond the seams between sections and the junctions to walls and masonry. Although the results are generally very positive, a small number of penetrations was observed. These were mainly due to mechanical damage during or after the installation of the fabric (such as illicit vehicle traffic), for example, infiltration through the taped seam, or, in a limited number of cases, the penetration of a shoot through a specific weakened spot of the fabric.
In 2018 a fresh series of test installations was undertaken using the second generation of Plantex® Platinium, which is even stronger thanks to a special point-bonded treatment. An enhanced installation method of thermally bonding the seams was also applied. Upon examination of the sites in November 2019 it appears that the second generation of Plantex® Platinium has performed even better, with zeropenetrations at the seams where thermal welding had been used.
In total, an area of more than 800 m2 was covered in which Plantex® Platinium has successfully constrained the development of Japanese Knotweed.
What is clear from all these observations is not only the outstanding performance of the fabric in controlling Japanese Knotweed, but also in maintaining the health and biodiversity of the soil. Plantex® Platinium has proved itself to be reliably robust. It was also observed that special care is required at the joints with masonry, to avoid shoots emerging between the fabric and the structure.
Thermal welding was one of the key improvements to the application of the product introduced by DuPont in 2018, as a result of such field-based observations. This technique creates even greater confidence by minimising the vulnerability of the seams. A simple and straightforward method needing only basic equipment (and strict adherence to detailed instructions provided by DuPont), this advance is typical of the attention to detail that ensures products such as Plantex® Platinium perform as designed.
What is also clear from the field tests is that any such fabric system will continue to require some level of ad hoc maintenance, but with Plantex® Platinium this is minor and limited and allows for reliable chemical-free control of knotweed.
What’s more Plantex® Platinium is shown to work well in various situations and conditions, including sloped surfaces, and it functions admirably as part of holistic systems with other specialised landscaping products from DuPont.
Such programmes undertaken by DuPont in collaboration with independent bodies clearly demonstrate that civil, landscaping and horticultural professionals can have confidence in a product that is at once innovative and continually proving its worth.
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