Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lavender essential oil as herbicide

While I love our Lavender Luster, which we say provides aromatherapy as you clean I never in my wildest imagination thought that I'd see "aromatherapy while you weed"! Apparently, scientists in Italy have discovered that some essential oils can be useful as an herbicide. They are finding that lavender essential oil can affect root growth in the plants. It also affects the soil microbes and fungi involved in crop growth.

Can't you just see us dancing through the fields spritzing the weeds? If only it would be that easy. Obviously, a lot of work has to be done to find out what exactly happens to the weeds and whether beneficial microbes are hurt by the application of lavender essential oil. They have been doing research on other essential oils and are finding that cinnamon and peppermint oils are effective as pre-emergent herbicides - stopping seed germination. The essential oils used for this could be very good because they don't persist in the environment. They are easily degraded by enzyme and microbial activity.

Turns out this isn't as unique as I'd thought. Monterey Organics has an herbicide with lemongrass oil as it's active ingredient. In 2002 there was a study at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station that found several herb's oils effective in killing a number of weeds. The most effective of the herbs studied were red thyme, summer savory, cinnamon, and clove. There are more studies and products that have been completed, and I'm sure we'll be experimenting with some, but I still love the vision of gossamer-clothed ladies spritzing the fields.

1 comment:

Organic Aromatherapy said...

I'm interested to see how this pans out and whether whatever they produce will be available as an approved ingredient for organic growers, like us. The concept of essential oils as pesticides/herbicides makes sense though, considering that it is the belief of many aromatherapists that one of the roles of essential oil in a plant is to repel insect and disease pests.