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If I spray some grass with a poison like Round-up or Kills All, how long before that spray is not dangerous to plants?

So for example, if after spraying, I walk through the sprayed area and then onto my lawn, how long until I am not going to be leaving "foot prints of death"?

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Although the label might say it's ok to plant again after 2-3 days, do note that different products have different time frames and you should read the label for your product carefully.

Even then, you shouldn't trust manufacturer's claims. This article cites a 1993 EPA study showing that glyphosate (Roundup) half-life can persist in agricultural soil for over four months. (Scroll down to figure 6 and the section titled "Persistence and Movement in Soil".) And that's just the half-life! Glyphosate does not break down quickly.

Note that Monsanto has been in trouble in both New York and France for false advertising regarding Roundup biodegrading in soil and exaggerated safety claims.

  • 1
    Although it may still be active, it shouldn't be coming off on your shoes after a few weeks. Also, consider if it has rained recently. Usually the area should be safe on the surface to touch and walk on after rainfall. As far as the half-life is concerned, yes, it will still be active, but I wouldn't worry about footprints of death for very long. – Viv Jan 28 '16 at 23:09
  • Some herbicides labeled Roundup also contain other herbicides roundup.com/smg/goprod/roundup-concentrate-poison-ivy-killer/… (2% Triclopyr 18% Glyphosate) Triclopyr has a soil half life of 30 to 90 days: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triclopyr So Read the label carefully! – Wayfaring Stranger Feb 2 '16 at 20:31
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Glyphosate breaks down in normal soil within a few days, or even quicker.

It can be rapidly bound to soil particles and be inactivated, unbound glyphosate can be degraded by bacteria.

So if your soil is very poor and does not have a good level of active bacteria then the glyphosate may remain active for a lot longer. (Many agricultural soils have few active bacteria as they have not seen any real compost for the last 30 years!)

Also newly spouted seeds are a lot more sensitive then established plants. So you can kill of the weeks with glyphosate and safely plant out pre grown plants once the weeds starts to die. But if you try to sow seeds and hit the weeks with glyphosate just before the seed germinate you may get more issues.

I expect that a lot of the time when people claim programs from repeated glyphosate usage, it is more down to having “dead” soil that has not seen any compost for a long time with little plants left growing it in, therefore few of the bacterias and fungus that plants need.

Other weed killers are design to remain active for many months.

Often more than one weed killer will be mixed when sold under a brand name.

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