Physical control in aquatic plant management refers to the physical manipulation of plants or their habitat. This approach is sometimes referred to as cultural control and includes a number of different techniques such as pulling plants out of the water by hand; hand-netting floating plants and plant fragments; cutting them with a hand-held blade; or controlling them with environmental alterations such as water level manipulation, bottom barriers, dyes, prescribed fire, nutrient manipulation, and aeration. Physical control is sometimes confused with mechanical control. Mechanical control involves machinery that is used to cut, shred, or remove plants from aquatic systems. A constant consideration with both methods is how and where to dispose of the controlled plants.
At times, aquatic plant managers have found that one or more of these physical control methods is sufficient for managing certain plant species or they may be combined with other methods such as chemical or mechanical control.
Following is a basic description of the various physical control methods used where appropriate to control aquatic plants in Florida waters. For a detailed discussion of management considerations related to each of these methods, see Section 4.