In the very first place, what's not sustainable is the failure to take into
account the manufacturing site of the substance: Proponents of chemical use
might consider the downwinders and downstreamers in the discussion. The Times
Beach-Bhopal side of the story. I can go along with the comparison of Roundup
to Paraquat, 2,4,5 D, etcetera, but the context is too superficial. The
orchardist spot treating johnson grass with a wick system is doing very little
onsite damage to himself or to the environment. Relatively. But the demand for
more chemicals hastens the building of more manufacturing plants, usually
where people complain less, don't have an ear to complain to, or the
regulators have poor standards or ignore them. West Helena, Arkansas, for
example. I hope this isn't too redundant. Unfortunately, the cognition of this
problem is ancient.
If Roundup worked that well, after all the tonnage applied here over the
years, one would expect to have some control in the field. Forget the
roadways, ditches, woodland borders and abandonded land....where the seed
stock flourishes....But the plant seems to be a constant, no matter how much
time Monsanto buys on local Tv and radio.
Controlling Johnson grass organically depends so much on the cropping system.
On small truck farms ( my experience) hand work will do it. Diligence and
timing is so crucial. Prevention is key.Even if I am in the midst of a peach
panic, I still have collared myself enough to walk a field with a machete
whacking grass before it goes to seed. Pulling one clump of it out is never a
waste of time.
An organic farmer in Halletsville, Texas said he got rid of J Grass in a field
by keeping it mowed all summer and then ripping it a few times during the
winter to lay the roots up in the cold. He knocked it back 50%. The next
spring he planted only one squash crop in that field and then kept it mowed,
ripped it in the winter and the next year it was down to 20% of what it had
been ( which was a mess). I am very surprised that J Grass is a problem as far
north as Ohio, but pehaps it is due to a mild winter.
I did the same thing to a field with not as good results. I planted it too
often to vegetables instead of following through entirely and fallowing the
field. This year I was reading an old weed book, which said that J Grass can
be controlled just as my friend in Halletsville had said...the author said
that the reason why frequent mowing works is that the deeper roots die
back....the shorter the grass the shallower the root ( a Holistic Resource
Management tenet as well). I also noticed that the short, mowed grass seemed
to have shorter seed stalks....perhaps even not as green and vigorous...but
that is Texas, and may not be the same elsewhere.
on the road
Jefferson County, Iowa
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