Brush invasion competes with desirable forage for moisture, light, and nutrients and can be a major limitation to rangeland or pasture production. Dense brush stands obstruct grazing, reduce livestock performance and interfere with livestock handling.
Removing trees and brush from rangeland and pastureland can increase forage production and livestock carrying capacity.
Brush invasions frequently are ignored until they become severe.
Control can be difficult and expensive, and the cost of attempting to eradicate a species usually exceeds any benefits gained, once they have gotten out of hand. That is why it is best to remember this now and make it a year-round priority, just like you do with thistle or sericea lespedeza, to stay on top of brush control.
There are basically five different methods of using herbicides to control tree and brush species that can be used and their effectiveness also depends on what time of the season you are targeting the plant pest. In other words, different methods should be applied depending on the time of the year. For example, with a foliar application, it is best to apply the herbicide in the spring when brush is nearing full-leaf stage and growing actively.
The dormant stem application obviously is done when brush is dormant and the bark is dry.
The soil application is best to apply from April through June in a period of active growth. The basal bark application and cut stump or frill application is best done from mid-July to mid-January.
Which method is best to use? Selecting a brush control method depends on the plant species, size of invasion, topography, economics, adjacent land use and management objectives.
Combinations of methods often are less costly and more effective than a single method, particularly with mixed brush species.
Prescribed burning followed by herbicide applications on the regrowth improves control of persistent species.
Because successful brush control normally requires follow-up treatments, applying herbicides to prevent sprouting is more efficient than repeatedly killing regrowth.
For soil application, depending on the product used, you might be using an exact delivery hand-gun applicator and administer the product around the brush.
Precipitation is needed for activation, and you can expect to see some grass damage.
The basal bark application is a mixture of 10 percent to 25 percent herbicide in diesel, adding a surfactant is optional, but I would recommend it. Apply it by spraying basal parts of brush or trees to a height of 15 to 20 inches above the ground. Thoroughly wet all basal bark areas, including crown buds and ground sprouts. Periods of dry weather also will aid in root control.
Cut stump or frill application is achieved by cutting the stump as close to the ground as possible and immediately applying the proper herbicide to the cut surface usually will prevent resprouting. The frill or girdle method can be done on larger trees, grooves or
notches can be cut in the trunk. Herbicide applied to the cuts will penetrate the sapwood and control most species.
All of these methods can obtain satisfactory results. And, as mentioned earlier, the method to use is dependant on several factors; what worked best for your neighbor might not be the best for you depending on labor, time of year, equipment and many other factors. So study your options carefully before choosing the control method or methods.
No herbicides were mentioned because of the sheer number available. For more specific information, consult the 2009 Chemical Weed Control for Field Crops, Pastures, Rangeland and Non-cropland book by Kansas State Research & Extension. It can be found online at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/srp1007.pdf. Or stop by the local county Extension Office for a copy.
Several USDA or State government programs are available that can provide costshare assistance for brush control. Stop by the office to get more information.
Don’t let brush get out of hand—treat it before it becomes too big of a problem.
Buffers and Profitability
Jim Weaver, Program Coordinator
A recent article in the Lawrence Journal World raised a red flag about atrazine levels detected in Kansas water bodies. Numerous articles have been in the news about sediment choking our lakes and reservoirs, including Clinton Lake, and an unusually wet year has taken its toll on crop fields across the county. Bobwhite Quail populations have improved a little, but remain far behind the levels of forty years ago.
The simple practice of installing Filter Strips along streams can have a huge impact on all of these problems we are seeing. They can trap 70% of the sediment leaving a crop field, and along with the sediment are the herbicides, pesticides and nutrients that have not been utilized by the crops. The dense grasses and forbs in Filter Strips provide habitat near food sources for wildlife.
So, how can something so simple, yet so beneficial, not be a popular practice? The answer I have heard most often is “I just don’t want to give up the crop ground.”
Kansas State Extension has a publication that might be of interest to anyone looking for answers. It is titled “Using Conservation Buffers to Protect Water Quality and Enhance Agricultural Profitability”. In a nutshell, their agricultural economists did a comparison of annual costs and returns per acre of a corn/soybean rotation versus a CRP Filter Strip over a fifteen year period.
The bottom line of the study was:
Corn Soybean rotation net value $394.31/acre
Filter Strip $ 799.14/acre
Riparian Forest Buffer $ 887.62/acre
Right now, as crops are coming out, is the perfect time to assess your fields and to make decisions about improvements. Consideration of Buffers should be a part of your decision making process as you look at options. New buffer practices have some additional flexibility, and may help to make your operation over hard to farm areas easier to contend with.
Douglas County Water Festival
SanDe Fishburn, District Manager
On Friday, October 2, 2009 at the Kansas University Field Station north of Lawrence, over 300 area fourth graders participated in hands-on games and activities at the Douglas County Water Festival.
Every living thing needs water to survive. Seventy-one percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, but less than half of one percent is suitable for drinking. Still, many people do not give water much attention. The water festival was designed to increase student’s awareness, understanding and knowledge of water. The students attended six (6) 15 minutes sessions, each offering an objective-based, hands-on activity.
The Douglas County Conservation District sponsored the water festival through a grant from Kansas Association of Conservation Environmental Education funded by Kansas Department of Health and Environments' Bureau of Water and U.S. EPA 319 Funds.
Over 20 volunteers from area agencies and organizations including Douglas County Farm Bureau Association, 4-H, Free State FFA, KDHE, Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas Biological Survey, NRCS, and the KU Transportation Research Institute worked to help student connect to water and its importance in their local community.
Time to Plan for Native Grass Spring Seeding
The Douglas County Conservation District will begin taking orders for native grass and wildflower seed from December 1, 2009 through March 1, 2010
Requests for the District to drill your native grass will also be taken from December 1, 2009 through March 1, 2010.
To make sure the fields are ready to be seeded, our staff and drill operator will complete field checks. After the field check, a letter will be sent to the landowner stating what needs to be completed before the ground is seeded.
The recommended seeding dates for warm season native grasses are from December 1 through May 15.
Please stop by our office or call (785-843-4260 ext. 3) to discuss your individual native grass spring planting needs.