Q&A: Factors to Consider in Weed Management Strategies - UNL CropWatch, March 15, 2012

Q&A: Factors to Consider in Weed Management Strategies - UNL CropWatch, March 15, 2012

 Invasive plant  Phragmites plume
Common Reed, also known as phragmites, is an invasive, noxious weed in Nebraska.  It is often found in wetland areas where it overpowers native species and destroys the natural habitat.  Seeds from the phragmites plume (right) contribute to spread of the weed. (Photos by Steve Young)

March 15, 2012

With new concerns about herbicide-resistant weeds and the spread of invasive and noxious plant species, producers, land managers, and landowers are challenged to find the best control solutions for their operations.  Following are several questions and answers to consider as you plan integrated weed management  measures for your farm.  This is the first of two Q&A's on this topic.

Also see

Getting a Jump on Invasive Plant Management, CropWatch, 7/11/11

North American Invasive Plant Ecology and Management Short Course, scheduled for June 26-28, 2012, in North Platte

Question 1. Effective vegetation management can be characterized as integrated pest (weed) management (IWM). IWM is ecosystem-based and provides for long-term strategies that minimize habitat loss, reduce disturbances and are cost effective. How can the skills of the manager/landowner and availability of tools, equipment, and resources influence the control of unwanted vegetation?

Answer.  Ecosystems are highly dynamic and constantly changing. In many invasive plant-infested locations, restoring and maintaining the “health” of the ecosystem is not a passive activity with minimal involvement. You’ll need to understand the plants, soils, biota, and climate to implement the appropriate weed management tools and monitor for the desired changes. The diligent manager or landowner needs to take timely action and be prepared to adapt control measures in response to change, learning continually throughout the process.

Question 2.  Why is plant identification important in implementing certain control tools?

Answer. If the weedy or invasive plant is not properly identified, the control strategies likely will not target the inherent weaknesses of the plant.

Question 3. Weeds can threaten landowners (economics), users (recreation), and other plant species (native), encroaching beyond individual property or government boundaries. What is needed to develop a regional approach for addressing a particular species?

Answer. Awareness and education are critical for addressing invasive plant species. In many cases, incentives or penalties have made landowners and the general public more aware of this problem; however, regulatory tools do not always produce the desired outcome and highlight the need for further education. Effective integrated weed management requires a commitment to understanding plants, the environment, and associated ecological processes (e.g., disturbance, competition, dispersal). To achieve the desired result, individuals and groups overseeing land in a specific region will need to work together in their management approach.

Steve Young
Weed Ecologist, West Central REC, North Platte