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Unusual Controls

"Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible." M. C. Escher

Cashmere goats ...What?
This species of goat along with Spanish goats have been in service to clear areas of woody vegetation. At Devils Tower in Wyoming Cashmere goats have been put in use for weed control, apparently with excellent results. They will eat many types of noxious weeds like bamboo, bindweed, Canada thistles, gorse, leafy spurge, poison oak, Poison ivy, scotch broom and wild blackberry.. The goats leave grasses as a last choice of food and also eat other broad leaf plants such as cattails, yuccas, and soapweed!

Some research was done in Colorado with results showing that these invasive weeds were controlled along with some being completely eliminated by Cashmere goats! This presents a very non-invasive method of returning unmanageable area back to grassland with no need for herbicides, heavy labor and using hazardous clearing methods. Cashmere and Spanish goats weed control is most effective on one to five year old vegetation. As for a young patch of thistles, poison ivy and oak, the goats can destroy it quickly! As the goats destroy the brush their pellets make more nitrogen available to the soil and aid in the return of the grasses. This gives the grasses a boost in overcoming any broadleaf weeds.

Hemp as weed control!
Hemp has been used successfully as a smothering crop for weeds. Certainly an organic method and another of many reasons for legalizing hemp production. As a cover crop Hemp so effectively covers the soil that there is little if any space for weeds to take hold. Hemp is also excellent for improving soils when tilled in.
When hemp was a legal crop it actually controlled infestations of quack grass and Canadian thistle with almost complete eradication. Now that's impressive!!! It is said to even have some effect on bindweed.
It can be grown in dry conditions with no needs for insect controls or fertilizing.

Following is an historical anecdote regarding hemp's ability for weed control:

"Hemp has been demonstrated to be the best smother crop for assisting in the eradication of quack grass and Canada thistles....At Waupon in 1911 the hemp was grown on land badly infested with quack grass, and in spite of an unfavorable season a yield of 2,100 pounds of fiber to the acre was obtained and the quack grass was practically destroyed."
--Andrew Wright, Wisconsin's Hemp Industry, 1918.
For more info see: Dr. Dave's Hemp Archives: hemp as weed control

Hemp was given the OK for Canadian farmers to grow. Hemp has not been legal to grow in Canada ever since it was banned in 1938. In 2000 Canadian farmers were given an official go ahead for the commercial cultivation of hemp.
This was wonderful news as hemp has so many redeeming uses! It can be used to manufacture construction materials, paper, fabrics, superior strength rope etc.

Microbial Herbicides
Microbial herbicides work in the same manner for the microbial insecticides; no danger to the environment or applicator and are selective in what plants they work on. These are generally based on fungi as their mode of action. These are known as mycoherbicides. Myco means fungi.

Microbial herbicides that utilize other means like nematodes are called bioherbicides. Two registered bioherbicides that are available: Devine for control of milkweed vine and Collego for control of jointvetch.

Weed Eating Geese!
Geese are voracious grass eaters dining on such invasive species as Bermuda grass, crabgrass, johnson grass and adversely will eat puncture vine. They have to be controlled so they won't destroy desirable vegetation. Geese are being used more and more for alternative weed control by tree nurseries, organic farms and fruit orchards.
All geese will weed to a certain extent. The best choice: A white Chinese weeding goose. The Chinese specifically bred this goose to be a weeder over 2,000 years ago. Imagine that!
A goose at 6-7 months of age will eat consume an amount of grass equal to their weight everyday! One goose is adequate to weed an urban garden. For larger areas with an abundance of weedy grasses you would require 3 to 5 geese to get things under control. If you have a pond or waterway on your property your geese will appreciate a swim and they will keep the water free from grasses!
A source for weeder geese and information is:

  • PINA (Permaculture Institute of North America)
    4649 Sunnyside Avenue N.
    Seattle, WA 98103
    Phone: (206) 547-6838

 

 

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