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Prevention: The BEST medicineImage showing weed seeds stuck in socks and shoelaces


Picture this scenario…
It may be all too familiar. Upon returning from a recent outdoor excursion, you notice several unfamiliar burr-like objects stuck in your shoe laces. Innocently, you pull them loose and toss them aside. Congratulations! You may have just founded a new invasive weed population.

Preventing weeds from becoming established is the best method for their control, and is essential to any weed management strategy. Prevention efforts should try to stop weed seeds and vegetatively reproductive stems and roots from being transported to uninfested areas. Second, efforts should be directed to reduce susceptibility of the ecosystem to weed establishment. Third, education materials and activities should be developed to encourage an awareness of invasive weed issues.

Prevent weed spread
Seeds or plant fragments can be introduced as contaminants of hay or animal feed, as seed used for planting, and in transported soil. All seed and livestock feed should be certified as weed-free, especially if it or the animals eating it, are transported across county or state boundaries. Seed collected for use in revegetation programs should never contain invasive weed propagules. If soil is transported, it should never go from an area with invasive weeds to one where they are absent.Image of burrs in a dog's fur

Animals can transport weeds by passing viable seed through their digestive system or by transporting seed attached to their hair. Seed dispersal by animals can be minimized by avoiding livestock grazing in weed-infested areas during flowering and seeding stages or by holding animals for 7 days before moving them to uninfested areas.

Equipment and vehicles driven through weed infested areas can transport weed seeds or fragments to uninfested areas. Also, seeds can become attached to human clothing or be carried in soil in the soles of shoes and boots. Equipment and clothing should be cleaned before leaving an infested site.

Reduce weed establishment
Proper management can go a long way in weed prevention. In order for weeds to become established, they must gain access to resources. Various plant species are adapted to occupy certain niches, using differing strategies to survive. In a healthy Great Basin ecosystem, resources and space are partitioned, and available niches are filled by plant species adapted to match the required living conditions. This makes it much harder for weeds to invade because they have limited access to resources. However, improper management can remove particular plant species, creating openings where weeds can become established.

Image depicting niche partitioning and how weeds establish in vacant niches

Educate about invasive weed issues
Education is an important part of invasive weed prevention. This website is one tool for educating the public about invasive weed issues. It provides tips for identifying weeds and detecting new infestations, and promotes awareness of how our actions foster invasive weed problems. There are many other resources available on the Internet and elsewhere to help us do our part in invasive weed prevention. For more information, just type key words like 'invasive weeds' or 'noxious weeds', and your state and county, into a search engine on the Internet.

Images:
-Dog with burrs: Public domain.
-Niche partitioning: Adapted from Sheley, R.L., T.J. Svejcar, and B.D. Maxwell.  1996.  A theoretical framework for developing successional weed management strategies on rangeland.  Weed Technology 10:766-773. .
-Sidebar photo: Loren St. John.

Text references:
-Colorado Natural Areas Program. 2000. Creating an integrated weed management plan: A handbook for owners and managers of lands with natural values. Colorado Natural Areas Program, Colorado State Parks, Colorado Department of Natural Resources; and Division of Plant Industry, Colorado Department of Agriculture. Denver, Colorado. 349 pages.
-DiTomaso, J.M. 2000. Invasive weeds in rangelands: Species, impacts, and management. Weed Science. Vol. 48 No. 2 pp. 255-265.
-Guidelines for coordinated management of noxious weeds: Development of weed management areas. Center for Invasive Plant Management. Available: (http://www.weedcenter.org/management/guidelines/tableofcontents.html 17 October 2006).
-Sheley, R.L., T.J. Svejcar, and B.D. Maxwell. 1996. A theoretical framework for developing successional weed management strategies on rangeland. Weed Technology 10:766-773.
-University of Nevada Reno. Cooperative Extension. Fact sheet 96-12. Available:(http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/FS96/FS9612.pdf 17 October 2006).