Using Pesticides to Manage Weeds
“There’s a lot of awareness now of what chemicals—pesticide and herbicides—do to the environment,” says Lani Malmberg. “They’ve been using chemicals against weeds for 45 years, so there shouldn’t be a weed on this planet. Obviously it’s not working. We’ve been looking for something else, a logical way to slowly heal the land. And we’ve found it.”
Lani Malmberg, 45, a former rancher, is a self-described gypsy. She spends her days driving around the West in her camper with 1,100 weed-eating cashmere goats following by truck. “Business is catching on fast because the public is demanding less use of chemicals in their air, water and land,” she said. “I am now training people in five states how to get started in this business.”
Asking the correct question
If you decide to use an pesticide or herbicide to control weeds, know that there is an alternative approach. It all starts with the questions we ask when addressing a weed control issue. Historically, when a land owner or land manager calls for help about weed control, their question may be, “I’ve got this Russian knapweed in my horse patch, what do I do?” For help they call the experts, the consultants, the county extension agents, and the county weed person. These folks then pull from existing research and knowledge that’s out there – information which is published and provided by the chemical industry.
When you have chemical company funding land management research, what do recipients of the funding then research? They research the questions that the industry pose. And those questions are, “What type of chemical should we use?”, “How much chemical application should we use – a pint or quart to the acre?”, and “Should we spray in the spring or fall, or both?”
The response to weed control is about spraying. It’s about which chemical to use and how much to spray. It’s not about “What is the best thing to do to manage Russian knapweed?”
Instead we think the correct question should be “What is this the best way to control Russian knapweed?”
Ecological land management with goats vs. War to “control” noxious weeds
Lani Malmberg, co-owner of Ewe4ic Ecological Services aka Goat Green (TM), provides land restoration using goats to manage weeds in urban spaces. She tries to bolster the system, nurture and build the nutrition of the soil. It’s all about soil. The goats eat the vegetation, recycle it, releasing nutrients to build the soil organic matter, and hold the water in place. Goats add to the soil. The only thing they kill or diminish growing power to are weeds. Goats are going to add, add, and add —vitality, vigor, and joy back into the soil. It’s a win-win for Environmental Stewardship.
Goats are bio-diverse agents and experience shows it works
Ecological Land Management with Goats owner Lani Malmberg, who is a self-proclaimed “gypsy” goat herder, has spent her life working with goats. In addition to non-toxic noxious weed control, grazing goats simultaneously reduce tinder for fires, flood control, re-seeding and building soil nutrients through fertilization.
Owner of the goat grazing business Ewe4ic Ecological Services aka Goat Green (TM) based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Ms. Malmberg has been working toward organic land management practices through goat herding since 1997 when she bought her first hundred head of cashmere goats. Now she has more than 2,000 head of goats and has had federal contracts with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, plus federal, state, county, city governments, private people, local groups, homeowner associations, and giant corporations.
Caution note for Noxious Weeds and Poisonous Plants applications provided by the United States Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service:
Caution: Pesticides used improperly can harm humans, domestic animals, beneficial insects, desirable plants, and fish or other wildlife. Follow the directions and heed all precautions on labels. Store pesticides in original containers under lock and key—out of the reach of children and animals— and away from food and feed. Apply pesticides so that they do not endanger humans, livestock, crops, beneficial insects, fish, and wildlife. Do not apply pesticides where there is danger of drift when honey bees or other pollinating insects are visiting plants or in ways that may contaminate water or leave illegal residues. Avoid prolonged inhalation of pesticide sprays or dusts; wear protective clothing and equipment, if specified on the label. If your hands become contaminated with a pesticide, do not eat or drink until you have washed. In case a pesticide is swallowed or gets in the eyes, follow the first aid treatment given on the label and get prompt medical attention. If a pesticide is spilled on your skin or clothing, remove clothing immediately and wash skin thoroughly.
Note: Some States have restrictions on the use of certain pesticides. Check your State and local regulations. Also, because registrations of pesticides are under constant review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, consult your local county agriculture agent or State extension specialist to be sure the intended use is still registered. Use only pesticides that bear the EPA registration number and carry appropriate directions.
Control tips: Be sure to read, understand and follow all of the label directions when mixing and applying herbicides. Make sure the label clearly states that the product can be used in the manner you intend to use it. Remember, more is not better. Use the application rate on the label. Some herbicides are selective, and only kill certain types of plants, while others are non-selective and kill almost any type of plant. Some herbicides kill weeds quickly, others can take up to a week or more. Some herbicides persist in plants and soils for long periods of time, while others only remain in plants or soil for a short time. Some herbicides have active ingredients that are more likely to move through soils towards groundwater. Others are much less likely to move through soils.
This publication in its entirety is freely available on the website: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/indexpubs.html