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Contact Herbicide

by Achim Dobermann
Published: Last Updated on
contact herbicide

Contact herbicide is a type of weed killer that is designed to kill only the plants they come into direct contact with. It is an important tool for farmers, gardeners, and other people who want to control the growth of unwanted plants in a specific area.

Their use dates back to the early 20th century when it was first developed for use in agriculture. Since then, they have become an important tool for controlling weeds in a variety of settings. Today, it is used in many countries around the world, with the United States, China, and Brazil being the top three countries in terms of herbicide use.

Contact herbicides differ from other types of herbicides in that they only kill the plants they come into contact with. This makes them a more targeted form of weed control compared to other herbicides, such as systemic herbicides, which are designed to be absorbed by the plant and kill it from within.

There are several types of contact herbicide available, each with its own specific properties and uses. Some of its most common types include:

  • Glyphosate: This herbicide is used to control a wide range of annual and perennial weeds, including grasses, broadleaf weeds, and sedges. It is commonly used in agriculture, landscaping, and other non-crop settings.
  • Glufosinate: This herbicide is used to control a variety of annual and perennial weeds in crops such as corn, soybeans, and cotton. It works by inhibiting the growth of the weed, ultimately leading to its death.
  • Paraquat: This herbicide is highly toxic and is used to control weeds in non-crop areas such as roadsides and industrial sites. It works by causing damage to the cell membranes of plants.
  • Diquat: This herbicide is commonly used in aquatic settings to control the growth of unwanted aquatic plants. It works by disrupting the photosynthesis process in the plant.
  • Atrazine: This herbicide is used to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in crops such as corn and sorghum.
  • 2,4-D: This herbicide is commonly used to control broadleaf weeds in lawns, pastures, and other non-crop settings.
  • Bromoxynil: This herbicide is used to control annual and perennial broadleaf weeds in crops such as wheat, barley, and rice.

One of the main advantages of contact herbicide is that it is highly effective at controlling weeds in a targeted area. They are also relatively fast-acting, with many types of contact herbicides showing visible results within hours of application. Additionally, many contact herbicides are affordable and readily available, making them a popular choice for both commercial and residential use.


Meanwhile, one of its main disadvantages is that it can also kill desirable plants if they come into contact with them. This can be especially problematic in areas where there are a variety of plants growing close together, such as in a garden or natural ecosystem.

Additionally, some of its types can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. For this reason, it is important to handle these herbicides with care and follow all safety precautions when using them.

There is ongoing scientific debate about the safety and efficacy of contact herbicides. Some studies have suggested that long-term exposure to these herbicides can have negative effects on human health, including an increased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Additionally, there are concerns about its environmental impact, as it can leach into groundwater and other water sources, potentially causing harm to aquatic ecosystems.


According to a report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global herbicide use has increased by over 50% in the past decade, with contact herbicides being one of the most commonly used types. The report also notes that herbicide use varies widely by region, with North and South America being the largest consumers of herbicides, followed by Asia and Europe.


Further, to minimize its negative effects, it is important to use these products responsibly and follow all safety guidelines when applying them. This may include wearing protective clothing and equipment, choosing the appropriate herbicide for the specific plant or weed being targeted, and using the correct dosage and application method. It is also important to be aware of the potential environmental risks associated with contact herbicides and take steps to minimize any potential harm.


In conclusion, contact herbicide is an important tool for controlling weeds in a variety of settings. While they can be highly effective at promoting healthy crops and environments, it is important to use these products responsibly and be aware of their potential effects on human health and the environment. By following best practices for application and taking steps to minimize any potential harm, it can continue to be an effective and valuable tool for weed control.

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