Taylor Wilson - Urban Conservation Technician
Tired of Invasives?
Winter is a great time to manage invasive plants and get a head start on spring management. Several invasive species can actually be easier to identify in the winter and early spring than in the summer. This can be because they’re evergreen, they have a distinct winter color, or they produce leaves before native plants do. Many people take advantage of this by working on invasive management during the winter, or by marking the easily identifiable plants, and then treating them when it's warmer. Below are several species that are easily identified during the winter months as well as species you can treat now.
What can you ID?
If you aren’t confident with identifying invasive species, the below species are easy to identify in winter and early spring. They can be marked, often with spray paint or flagging tape, and then treated when it’s warmer. Or if you don’t mind the cold, see “What can you treat?” below.
Manual treatment is any management that doesn’t use herbicide. Examples may be cutting, pulling, and mowing.
Chemical treatment is any management that utilizes herbicides. The following invasive species can be treated during winter months
With all this in mind, remember that the first step in the fight against invasive species is preventing them from spreading. Hiking is a wonderful winter activity but remember there are still invasive seeds on the ground. Use a boot brush or clean your hiking boots in other ways before moving between parks and other natural areas.
Good luck managing!
Diane Turner - Conservation Technician and Outreach Coordinator
As a landowner or farm operator, you face many decisions when managing your natural resources. When it comes to improving soil health, Hamilton County SWCD is here to provide reminders and tips to guide your decision making. Soil health is defined as the capacity of a soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Landowners that encourage healthy soils can not only sustain productivity but maintain environmental quality while enhancing plant and animal health. Some characteristics of healthy soils include good soil tilth, good soil drainage, large population of microorganisms, sufficient (but not excessive) levels of essential nutrients, and low weed pressure. Lets look closely at the recommended key soil health principles, that if incorporated into your practices, will help improve the health of your soil.
Soil armor (surface plant materials/residue) is important for reducing water and wind erosion, decreasing water evaporation, moderating soil temperatures, reducing the impact of energy from raindrops, suppressing weed growth and providing a habitat for surface dwellers, which are an important part of the soil food chain.
A continual living plant root either from the commodity crop, cover crop or forage crop provides carbon exudates to feed the soil food web, which is exchanged for nutrients for plant growth. This process is also important for soil aggregate formation, which increases soil pores for improved water and air exchange.
Minimizing soil disturbance, either biological, chemical, or physical tillage, enables the soil armor to persist. Biological disturbance includes overgrazing of forages that reduce soil armor and below ground biomass. Physical and chemical disturbance occurs from tillage burying crop residues and over stimulating microbial breakdown and excessive carbon release into the atmosphere.
Prairie plant diversity aided and allowed soils to develop prior to the introduction of annual cropping systems. Plant diversity uses sunlight and water to sequester carbon and other nutrients, preventing leakages into ground and surface waters. Understanding the four crop types — warm-season grasses and broadleaves, and cool-season grasses and broadleaves — is necessary for designing cropping systems that improve soil health. Livestock integration balances soil carbon and nitrogen ratios by converting high carbon forages to low carbon organic material, reducing nutrient transport from the soil, and promoting pasture and rangeland management in combination with cover crop grazing.
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