Each year, Douglas County employees spray county roadsides to control noxious weeds. Employees spray and treat approximately 760 miles of road rights-of-way. County crews treat approximately 17,000 acres of open space land and 300+ small open space parcels. These parcels consist of open space land dedicated for future schools, neighborhood parks, and other purposes. The parcels vary in size from .2 acre to 60 acre tracts located around the county.
Occasionally, plants manage to survive near fences close to property lines, on land that is difficult to access, or at locations where new infestations suddenly appear from seed. Canada thistle and yellow toadflax bloom late in the season and are not always visible when spraying operations begin, so multiple applications are required.
Continued vigilance will be required indefinitely to successfully gain control over noxious weed infestations. The County has achieved great success over the years. As a result of programs started in the mid-1990s, there are very few noxious weed infestations on county rights-of-way.
To aid in our mission, Douglas County employs five certified pesticide supervisors/applicators to inspect and treat noxious weeds with the following equipment:
- 1,850 gallon and 725-gallon sprayers are used to treat roadsides
- 75-gallon all-terrain sprayer, a 30 gallon ATV sprayer, and several backpack sprayers are utilized in off-road areas
- Tractor with a 1,000-gallon trailer mounted sprayer is used to treat large open space parcels
- 500, 300, and 200-gallon truck-mounted sprayers are used to spot spray roadways
Control measures reduce weed populations to an acceptable level and should be the objective in all weed management plans.
Four types of control measures are:
- Cultural methods, such as prevention, promote the growth of desirable plants. Fertilization, irrigation, and planting high-quality desirable plants, allow plants to outcompete noxious weeds. Mechanical controls are the oldest control methods.
- Mechanical measures involve disrupting weed growth by mowing, pulling, hoeing, and burning. Biological controls involve the introduction of host-specific predators from the weed’s native country and the use of animals such as sheep and goats to reduce the vegetative growth of weeds. In Douglas County, the brown-legged leafy spurge flea beetle, aphthona lacertosa, has been introduced on an experimental basis to control leafy spurge.
- Biological controls should only be done under the direction of the Douglas County Weed Inspector and work only 30% of the time after a 3 – 5 year establishment period. Chemical control methods use herbicides to kill weeds.
- Herbicides are most effective when used in conjunction with other management techniques. Always read and follow label instructions with applying herbicides. A good weed management system integrates two or more of these methods into a plan of operation.
To help control noxious weeds:
- Learn to identify the noxious weed species that are invading the area where you live, work, and play.
- Report the location of all known and suspected noxious weed infestations.
- Understand the severe negative impact weeds have on the environment and economics of agricultural production.
- Manage noxious weeds on your property by developing and implementing a weed management control plan.
- Share your concerns about noxious weeds with your neighbors and friends.
- Minimize soil disturbing activities on your land and replant with desirable noxious weed free seeds and plants.
- Use integrated weed management techniques to effectively control noxious weeds.
- Take advantage of Noxious Weed Educational opportunities.