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Herbicides (from Latin herba means grass and caedo - to kill) are chemicals used to control unwanted plants.

By the nature of impact on plants there are non-selective herbicides that kill all types of plants and selective herbicides that destroy only certain plants without affecting others. Such division is quite relative because many herbicides with increase of their dose (or concentration in the substance) may lose its selectivity. Some herbicides such as 2, 4- dichlorophenoxyacetic acid in small doses can act as plant growth stimulant.

There are also contact herbicides that destroy plants in the places of contact and systemic herbicides that can move through the vascular system of the plant from the site of uptake to the site of action.

Non-selective herbicides are used to control unwanted plants around industrial areas, in forest clearings, airports, railways and highways, under high-voltage power transmission lines, in the drainage canals, ponds and lakes.

Selective herbicides are used for protection of cultivated plants, especially corn, soybean, cotton, wheat, rice, and sugar beet from weeds (chemical weeding).

According to the terms of application herbicides are divided into soil-acting/preemergent (they are incorporated into soil or on the surface prior to the sowing or before the crop emerges), and leaf-acting/postemergent. Soil-acting herbicides are absorbed by seeds, roots and sprouts, while leaf-acting herbicides are absorbed by the above-ground parts of plants in the different vegetation periods.

Herbicides are issued in the form of solution, emulsion concentrates, wettable powders (rarely in granules) and along with the active substance, they contain solvents and additives. Efficiency of herbicides depends on their composition and physicochemical properties. Mixtures of herbicides that can be produced by industry or prepared at the place of application are often used in order to broaden the spectrum of action and increase efficiency of herbicides.