With invasive plant species wreaking havoc on American agriculture and natural resources to an estimated tune of $40 billion each year, two workshops offered last week by Clemson Cooperative Extension aimed to train landowners and land managers to identify common invasive species and effectively treat them.

These invasive species not only result in economic losses but also have biological effects since they can “out-compete” many native species, according to Clemson Extension forestry and wildlife agent Janet Steele.

“The growing conditions found in South Carolina are ideal for many invasive plant species, many of which are from Asia and other countries with climates similar to the southeast United States,” Steele said. “These species usually produce abundant seed or fruit, which is often easily spread by wind, water and wildlife.

“They also have rapid growth rates, few natural predators, are able to grow under a variety of soil and light conditions, have root systems which are difficult to kill and can even produce allelopathic chemicals to suppress native species. Once well established, eradication can require multiple treatments often with significant expense.”

The first workshop was geared toward landowners and forestry professionals.

The second was conducted through a partnership between two women-focused education programs of Clemson Extension, Ladies Engaged in Agricultural Development (LEAD) and Women Owning Woodlands (WOW).

David Coyle, an Extension specialist in forest health and invasive species, led both workshops, designed to prepare landowners and land managers to identify common invasive species and learn how to effectively treat them.

“It’s important that landowners and land managers know how to effectively identify and treat invasive species because they’re most familiar with their property and will be the first people to notice anything that’s new or ‘out of place,’” Coyle said.

Both workshops provided participants information pertaining to herbicide use on invasive plants in South Carolina. Trained professionals taught attendees about pesticide basics, including safety, active ingredients and trade names. Identification and management methods for common woody plants, grasses, and understory plants were discussed.

An afternoon field tour included several stops with hands-on demonstrations of mechanical invasive species control, sprayer set-up and calibration and herbicide application methods in different forest systems. In addition, the workshop at Sandhills REC included a presentation on the use of livestock to control invasive plant species.

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