Reducing Costs for Noxious Weed Control - Separating “Seek” and “Destroy”
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013
How much money does your ranch spend controlling noxious weeds each year? The notion of even having an annual cash outlay for controlling noxious weeds will likely give pause to many ranchers, but several of the larger ranches we work with have developed a noxious weed control program to deal with unwanted plant species. These ranches utilize a commercial applicator to handle weed control, as well as the associated documentation. As many who have tried this approach know, such weed control can be really expensive.
These invasive houndstongue plants are dying after having recently been sprayed on a Montana ranch.
Ranchers should reduce costs of such a program by realizing that noxious weed control is truly an effort of seeking and destroying. Someone must find the weeds – seek – and someone must also apply herbicide – destroy. These two activities are inherently different, and separating the two activities can create cost savings and operational efficiencies.
We recommend ranch personnel be in charge of actually finding and mapping noxious weed locations. Those locations can then be communicated to the commercial applicator, who can then travel to the site and apply herbicide. Since most commercial applicators charge an hourly rate, it makes no sense to have these folks driving around a ranch looking for noxious weeds. Have them focus on treating weeds instead. Ranchers, who are working in their pastures anyway, should document their own weed locations, and the commercial applicator can be told where the locations are. This practice results in fewer hours billed by the applicator, which lowers the cost for the ranch.
Over time, the ranch and the applicator should work together to document declining weed occurrence and acres infested. Once the ranch attains a maintenance weed situation, the cost of controlling weeds becomes much more manageable.