Community Agriculture Alliance: 5 stages of noxious weed management
It’s that time of year when plants are starting to grow and bloom. It is imperative that while we are enjoying the changing of seasons that we keep an eye out for plants that do not belong.
Noxious weeds are plants that have been brought here from other parts of the world and do not have their native controls such as insects and disease to hinder their spread, and thus are able to outcompete native vegetation. Noxious weeds are required by law to be managed due to the severe impact they can have on agriculture, property values, recreation and the degradation to native plant communities, ecosystems and wildlife.
There are 5 stages of noxious weed management that allow us to prevent their establishment and spread.
- Prevention: By limiting soil disturbance and maintaining healthy desirable vegetation, we help prevent noxious weeds from having opportunities to become established.
- Detection: This is the key to noxious weed management. By detecting weeds early, we are able to readily remove them before they have a chance to grow deep roots or set seed into the soil seed bank. Early detection means less time and money being spent on controlling weeds and more time that can be spent aiding desirable vegetation.
- Control: Once a noxious weed has been detected, we must use an integrated approach to stop its growth and spread. This could be a combination of one or more mechanical, chemical, cultural or biological control methods.
- Monitoring: Once we know where a weed was found and have controlled it, we need to keep watching that site and surrounding areas for additional weeds to appear for years to come. More than likely there are additional seeds that have entered the soil seed bank and are waiting for the right conditions to germinate. Documenting known weed locations on a map or recording GPS coordinates are great monitoring tools.
- Restoration: This step brings us back to step one. If a large weed population was removed by our control methods, we want to make sure to reseed or plant desirable species that will thrive and help prevent future weeds from establishing. Bare ground is the best environment for weeds to become established.
If you are looking for resources to help identify and manage noxious weeds, consult with a Colorado State University Extension agent, county weed program or the new Routt County Noxious Weed Management Guide.
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Tiffany Carlson is the Routt County noxious weed supervisor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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