Control of Invasive Species Threatening Native Grasses in a Flint Hills Pasture
Harold Garner of Eureka, KS received a 2001 SARE grant in order to reduce and control the broad range of species that were threatening the 400 acre pasture that has been owned by the Garners since 1993. This SARE project would help create a pasture that would be more useful to the area ranchers by reducing the amount of osage orange and sericea grasses that were taking over the pasture.
The process began by sawing the large trees and then chemically treating the stumps. They also placed goats in the pasture to graze in order to help control the growth of these species. The second step was to increase the stock density by dividing the 400 acres into 80 acre paddocks so that intensive grazing of both yearly cattle and goats could be achieved.
This project also involved forage specialists, Dr. Walter Fick and Carol Blocksom from Kansas State University. They made frequent visits throughout the 2001-2002 grazing seasons in order to count plants and perform fecal and soil sampling. They also calculated plant diversity and forage production, with the data and an analysis being placed in Blocksom’s graduate thesis.
The results from this project faired well, as the weight gain of the cattle and goats remained stable while controlling the growth of the sericea. It was determined that the stock of the animals needed to be increased in order to control the species for the upcoming year. The removal of the osage orange trees also improved the viability and assortment of grasses in the pasture.
The Garners shared the success of their project to area ranchers as well as hosting several tours including one for the Kansas Graziers Association. The Kansas Graziers sent out press releases, conducted radio interviews, wrote articles and designed a flyer for the tour.