Our use of herbicides

The University of Sheffield aims to be as transparent as possible in our approach and use of herbicides. Currently our usage of herbicides (typically Glyphosate) is isolated to hard standing areas such as pavements, walkways and UoS owned road and managing invasive species.


Minimising our use of herbicides 

The University is committed to reducing its environmental impact and managing its green space both sustainably and to support biodiversity. Our ‘Spray Less UoS’ initiative reflects this commitment. 

We designated a number of locations as no spray areas - listed below. At these locations weeds are managed through hand weeding or they may be strimmed if there are risks of slips, trips and falls.

We use signage to identify the no spray areas and our aim is to gradually expand the number of no spray areas across our estate over the coming years.

University Spray Less Locations

  • Bartolome House, Winter Street
  • Geography and Planning Building, Winter Street
  • St George's Church grounds, St George's Terrace
  • The Medical School, Royal Hallamshire Hospital
  • Student's Union Nursery, Brunswick Street
  • University Health Centre, Gell Street
  • Crewe Hall, Endcliffe Student Village
  • Belgrave Woods, Endcliffe Student Village
  • Gene Therapy and Innovation Manufacturing Centre (GTIMC), Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

Using herbicides

There are a small number of occasions where there are no viable alternatives to using herbicides - for example when treating invasive species such as giant hog weed and Japanese knotweed or vegetation removal on hard standing.  

On the occasions that we do use herbicides we will limit this to the responsible use of glyphosate. Using glyphosate based weed killers can deliver effective weed control when used and managed responsibly on emerging weeds only.  Chemicals will only be applied by trained and competent members of staff

The University will not use herbicides on lawns, wildflower meadow or planted beds.  We will also not use herbicides around the grounds at the Students’ Union Nursery or the Medical School or the University Health Centre.

Alternatives to Glyphosate

As an institution we have a legal obligation to manage certain species of weeds under the Weeds Act 1959 as well as a legal requirement under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for managing invasive species such as knotweed.

Under Section 41 Highways Act 1980 we also have a duty to maintain the public highway, and effectively manage any hazards that may cause university users of the estate to trip. Therefore it is unlikely the University will be able to completely phase out the use of herbicides. 

Glyphosate will be banned by law in December 2025, consequently the Landscape maintenance team have been trailing alternative methods of weed control including applying acid based herbicide.

Although alternatives are not as reliable as glyphosate, the team are committed to finding a suitable alternative that allows us to manage weeds in a sustainable manner and supporting biodiversity.