Managing Wildland Weeds without Herbicides

managing weeds without herbicides

By now we’re all aware of the many downsides of using synthetic herbicides. However, most of us are also all too familiar with the temptation to reach for the quick and easy fix – even when we know we’re likely just making the problem worse farther down the line.

A new pair of resources aims to help land managers avoid that temptation by presenting the full range of weed management options in an on-the-go format.

One is a free downloadable manual, Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control. The other, based on the information in the manual, is an interactive website called WeedCUT, for Weed Control User Tool.

Both the manual and the website were developed by the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) and the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM).

The manual covers 21 non-herbicide weed control techniques, ranging from scuffle hoes to hydraulic tree spades, with chainsaws, girdling, flaming, steaming, and many others along the way. It even discusses training grazing animals to consume weeds. Even the most hardened weed warriors may find a new trick or two to try.

Each technique gets its own chapter, and each chapter synthesizes scientific research and practical experience in the use of that technique. For each technique, the manual describes the best applications, the environmental conditions and types of invasive plants for which it is most effective, and any potential downsides. In addition, the manual discusses biological control agents for 18 invasive plant species.

WeedCUT, the interactive online version of the manual, offers users a selection of filters that best describe their own environmental conditions and problem weed species. Once these are applied, it presents a ranked list of control techniques that best suit that particular situation.

It might seem that a guide written for California weeds would be of limited use in Oklahoma, but most of these techniques are universal. Even in the section on biological control, which addresses particular weeds individually, over half the species discussed are present in Oklahoma.

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