Leafy Spurge: Just What is It Costing You?


Northern Ag Network's Lane Nordlund takes a look at Leafy Spurge and just what it is costing you.  He spoke with Melissa Maggio-Kassner, the Montana Biological Weed Control Coordinator, who discussed management options.  Lane also spoke with Scott Dunning, the Broadwater County Weed Coordinator who talked about the economic considerations of leafy spurge management.  



Lane: Invasive weeds are a great threat to the environment, and with millions of acres of land infested in the region, weeds like leafy spurge not only out compete and reduce beneficial plant species, they have harmful economic impact on not just agriculturists but every day people. But, with a little hard work, weeds like leafy spurge can be managed.


Melissa: Leafy spurge is a difficult weed in Montana. It has an extensive root system. The best process is integrated weed management. Using bio-control agents, grazing with sheep or goats, if it makes sense for you, and utilizing herbicide. You can spray the perimeter and spot spray.


Scott: If your place is 640 acres. 10{62211894bbe3543ea27fa51e74e3ab79f2baeee0f4cbac9ff4b15b5bf1d81fd0} is infested so that is 64 acres; it will cost $4000 to use a herbicide treatment to treat it. But, what production is being lost?  How many head are you losing?  64 acres is approximately 5 acres per AUM, so that 12 head of cattle.  In today's market you are losing $1600 per cow, so losing 12 head of cattle is a huge cost. Plus the state mandates you must take of the weeds.


Melissa: We have seen success with large monoculture spurge. It takes 5 years for the agents to reduce the infestations. The sheep graze on flowers and landowners spot spraying. Spurge will remain there through our lifetimes. But you need to be actively managing it but, you will get it to a balance where those beneficial things can thrive. And, that's really what the goal is.


Lane: remember to visit your local conservation districts, county weed coordinator or county extension agent to do your part in helping manage noxious weeds.



© Northern Ag Network 2015

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