Weed management

Since the last couple of posts have dealt with weed management/ biocontrol weevils, I thought I

Ol' Cirsium vulgare is in for an ass kicking today!

Ol’ Cirsium vulgare is in for an ass kicking today! Idaho July 2012.

might post about some weed control paradigms. The photo at left shows me at work managing weeds at a mine exploration site in a National Forest utilizing perhaps the most expensive weed control methodology known: a trained botanist unleashed on a low density weed. As readers of the blog are aware, Rhinocyllus conica will feed on this noxious weed species, but removal before pollination guarantees that no seed will be set by this individual plant. The intensity of human response to weed threats is correlated to what is being protected and potential for effecting change. This is true whether the weeds are in wildland or agricultural situations. The area in the photo is a zero tolerance zone for weed occurrence due to sensitive nature of native plant populations and the economic activity occurring on site.

Amazingly, I have had people tell me that I shouldn’t kill plants. A blood-(sap)-thirsty approach approach to invasive species shows that I am not in tune with Mother Nature (who sent these species to tell us something) this is a statement I have heard more than a couple times. However, I have seen: wetlands become a monoculture of Lythrium salicaria, sage steppe converted to a sea of Bromus tectorum, and bean fields not harvested due to Amaranthus palmeri; to do nothing and just let these plants have their way with our ecosystems is something I just cannot do. This isn’t to say I don the weed management cape and tights every time I see noxious weeds – if I did they would never come off. So, what can we do?

  1. Learn your plants. Until you know your targets you are just a green murderer.
  2. Learn how to prevent movement of noxious weeds: clean seeds from your socks, vehicle undercarriage, etc.
  3. Clean up your yard, that Lonicera japonica bush isn’t as beautiful as you think…
  4. Be aware that many invasive plants (e.g. Lonicera japonica) will support some native wildlife, try to replace that function with native plants as the invasive is removed.
  5. Report populations of noxious plants to land managers when on public lands. GPS data, photographs, and specimens will all help land managers to act.

Pass me the glyphosate please…

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3 thoughts on “Weed management

  1. Steve Bouffard

    I agree with Kent. In my 30+ year conservation career, I have witnessed invasive plants completely alter native ecosystems, reducing diversity and numbers of native plants, with cascading negative effects on insects, other invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. I evolved from a ‘hands off’ to a ‘no holds barred’ attitude toward control of invasives, using every means at my disposal (biotic, mechanical & chemical), always selecting methods with the least negative side effects. After all human activity was responsible for these invasive species being here in the first place, why shouldn’t humans try to counteract their negative ecological and economic effects.

    Reply
  2. Ruth Henriquez Lyon

    Thank you for doing this work. We need more people who care about our native food webs and will do what it takes to help them stay healthy. Your comment about replacing invasives with beneficial plants is important. I just purchased “Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants” by C. Colston Burrell (2006, Paperback); it’s published by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and is helpful for those of us who are still in the learning phase.

    Reply

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