Jobs for Goats

FUDR offers a presentation on knotweed control and elimination

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 6/23/21

HANCOCK, NY — There’s more than one way to get rid of knotweed, and the Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) want you to know about the various methods. The organization held a presentation on ways to control the spread of knotweed at Fireman’s Field on Saturday, June 19.

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Jobs for Goats

FUDR offers a presentation on knotweed control and elimination

Posted

HANCOCK, NY — There’s more than one way to get rid of knotweed, and the Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) want you to know about the various methods. The organization held a presentation on ways to control the spread of knotweed at Fireman’s Field on Saturday, June 19.

Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that has spread rapidly throughout New York and the Upper Delaware River. It crowds out native species along the river and pushes up toward the forest, while its shallow root system means the soil where it grows is vulnerable to flooding and erosion.

FUDR is maintaining three plots of knotweed—one at Skinners Falls, one in Hancock and one in Deposit—to demonstrate different methods of controlling it, and to study which method is most effective.

The presentation, hosted by Steven Schwartz, covered five methods of controlling knotweed: two types of pesticide application, two types of physical control and an experimental method using goats.

Both foliar spray and stem injection herbicides can be used to control knotweed. Stem injection, in which herbicide is injected directly into the stems of individual knotweed plants, is effective at eliminating knotweed, but is costly and labor-intensive. Foliar spray, in which herbicide is sprayed on the leaves of the plant, trends more towards control than elimination but is less expensive than stem injection. FUDR recommends collaborating with a licensed herbicide applicator for both.

FUDR demonstrated trimming as a more “do-it-yourself method,” suggesting that property owners cut back patches of knotweed with mowers, machetes, or similar tools. This method is effective at keeping knotweed at bay but has to be repeated as the plant keeps growing back. Additionally, while Schwartz said it was alright to let the cuttings mulch, care needs be taken to be sure they don’t reproduce, as knotweed can reproduce by the joints on the stem, as well as by rhizomes under the ground and by seed from the late-summer flowers.

A more experimental method that FUDR demonstrated was covering: placing a heavy-duty tarp over a cut patch of knotweed to block the sun from reaching it. This works best on flat land above the flood line; if water reaches the patch, the covering may be swept away.

FUDR took advantage of knotweed being edible both in the presentation’s refreshments—tarts topped with young shoots of knotweed—and in the presentation’s final method of control. One patch of knotweed was fenced off, and a set of goats were let loose to graze upon it. While there were early concerns around whether goats would take a liking to knotweed, FUDR found that goats will eat it once it’s three to four feet high, providing an easy method of controlling its spread.

The goal of the presentation was ultimately to encourage local property owners to help in the fight against knotweed. The amount of property along the Upper Delaware means that no effort to control invasive species can work without buy in from local property owners.

Another goal was to support the local economy. While mowing can be accomplished by local property owners themselves, presenters encouraged the use of landscaping companies to control knotweed, with controlling knotweed requiring the same resources as more traditional forms of landscaping.

Attendees also discussed the possibility of renting goats from local farmers to control the spread of knotweed, leading one to quip that they were creating “jobs for goats.” While keeping knotweed under control would require several visits from goats, the speed at which they eat it means they would not have to stay on one property for long.

FUDR is holding another presentation at Will Smith Memorial Park in Deposit, NY on Sarurday, July 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information on knotweed and on preventing its spread, contact FUDR at info@fudr.org.

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