I would like to agree with other requests to learn more about managing invasive plants. Julie’s comments (in a NOFA/Mass publication) make it clear that invasive weeds in a no-till garden are a problem, but a very different problem than going to war against a hillside of multi-flora rose entwined with bittersweet, buckthorn, and honeysuckle.
Landscaping classes recommend heavy equipment, but that gets costly very fast. We have 3 acres of pasture that had been allowed to go wild on rocky hillsides. We have spent years clearing the plants, but because of the rocks, the only way to maintain the hard work it is by weed-wacking acres twice a year. UGH! Suggestions would be most helpful!!
— Jan Johnson
PS We love The Natural Farmer. I save past issues for grandchildren, to jump-start their science research papers.
I am no expert on which kind of animal to use in such a situation, but cows, sheep and goats all come to mind as possible allies in your attempt to manage invasives as well as to do some carbon sequestering and some food production. From my reading and from resources from the Savory Institute, and what Jerry Brunetti used to suggest, I would encourage you to look into a mob stocking arrangement with some animals. Pigs might be of some use too. I think the principles are pretty much the same – concentrate your animals in an area for a short period of time and move them on. If it is a ruminant species, feed them some hay as needed while they are in the specified small amount of land, and if it is pigs, supplement their range diet with more concentrated feeds. Then move them on to a new area.
Some of the really talented animal husbands raise different species together, though I haven’t tried that. Check out the work of Greg Judy. Don’t bring anyone back to a location until the greenery has come back and is in a strong carbon sequestering place. That totally depends on fertility and time of year, rainfall, etc. If you really want to supercharge your pasture, contact Advancing Eco Agriculture and work with one of their consultants to develop approach foliar sprays that will help remineralize your pasture quickly. With three acres, you have some decent space to work with. Good luck. It sounds like a fun project.
Dear Natural Farmers,
I am not offering an article but only Information that you might consider useful for your issue on Invasive Species. Some of it might be new to you. You are welcome to use whatever you wish. Thank you for The Natural Farmer.
It might be better to examine the area, what drains into it, what else is growing there, what is the history — what has affected the soil, rather than to react without thinking and to kill.
Connected with the question of what belongs here: In 2019 I attended two meetings in Sheffield re: glyphosate and in 2020, one at the NOFA conference and another in Lenox (Ed Stockman, speaker). At the Berkshire meetings, I recognized people who have applied RoundUp or Rodeo to phragmites for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for the past 20 years and to roadsides, wetlands, river banks, and homeowner easement properties, to kill weeds, vines, shrubs and trees in recent years. I also recognized homeowners and owners of orchards and farms who have easements with TNC and the Sheffield Land Trust. The local TNC representatives require and/or try to require easement property owners to use glyphosate on invasive species. They send directives by mail and in person.
In the first meeting — a large group, the man who applies glyphosate to Japanese knotweed on the Housatonic River banks spoke way beyond our allotted 3 minutes to argue for the use of glyphosate on knotweed to save native plant life. He referred to ‘scientific’ papers that testify to the safety and beneficial attributes of glyphosate. He was given a meeting of the Great Barrington Conservation Commission to pitch what he does. At the second meeting in Sheffield, half of the very small group were glyphosate advocates and they did advocate. Since then, the five of us who hope for a ban on glyphosate have not asked for another meeting. We are busy in other ways.
Over the past three decades, The Sheffield Land Trust has financed dairy farms that use petrochemical fertilizer etc. on land planted to GMO corn. The Land Trust and TNC collaborate and claim to save land from development. Atrazine and glyphosate have kept the ground bare. This land drains into the Housatonic River. The fields are in view along Rt 7. One dairy abuts Bartholomews Cobble along the river. Others are out of sight but the entire watershed drains into the Housatonic. Thought for the ocean and the rest of the world has no chance.
Local PR refers to the beautiful ‘rural nature’ of the town because of Land Trust ‘protection’ of land. Recently these fields have sent out an increasingly offensive smell from the manure of GMO corn/glyphosate-fed cows. The Land Trust has easements on home properties, orchard and vegetable farms, dairies and woodlands throughout the town and supports the use of glyphosate on weeds and invasive species on those properties. In 2003, the Land Trust took control of a town Master Plan and prevented the inclusion of information on climate change and organic farming. It took control of the local newsletter and has placed members on official town committees. The directors stopped publishing its list of donors in the 1990s. Both TNC and Sheffield Land Trust buy and sell real estate. TNC deals in huge tracts of land around the world. They continue to keep non- profit status, and claim to be environmental and educational. The town of Sheffield rests among rare sweet water wetlands of the Housatonic flood plain where the limestone bedrock and glacial deposits once gave rich soil to the region. The soil and the aquifer are in jeopardy.
Some years ago Mark Dowie, in “Conservation Refugees,” described how the BINGOs (Big International NGOs) have driven indigenous people off the lands that they have cared for and loved for thousands of years. TNC is one of the BINGOs.
Thanks for your thoughts on invasives and concerns about glyphosate and the groups that promote it. This is indeed a very controversial topic even for many organic advocates. It seems we have gotten so used to having our way with Nature, bending it to our wills, that we have forgotten our proper role on this blessed earth. I hope that the current public health emergency, product of a normal but invasive feature of Nature such as an infectious virus, is teaching us some lessons about a better way to fit in here.
This issue, addressing some of these hard questions of diversity and proper balance, is designed to give readers useful information and perspectives to cope. I hope we continue to deserve your thanks!