Weed management is an ongoing challenge for agricultural fieldmen. In their eyes, healthy roadside ditches and right-of-ways are those free of weeds.
Influencing the presence of weeds in these strips is Roundup and other herbicides sprayed on adjacent croplands that drift to unintended areas. This risk is exacerbated when spraying takes place on windy days, and most will recall that we’ve just come through a summer that was windier than normal.
You may have noticed caragana windrows that appear dead in mid-summer; often that’s a result of them being unintentionally hit with Roundup. A problem with Roundup in our ditches and right-of-ways is that it’s indiscriminate; it kills all the vegetation it comes in contact with. And you know what establishes itself when you kill the grasses, shrubs and flowering plants? Weeds. That translates to more time and money to the fieldmen responsible for managing these places.
Another similar and unfortunate scenario occurs when producers plow an existing right-of-way; the result is an instant explosion of kochia (above), a noxious, invasive species that is very difficult and expensive for counties and municipalities to manage. The result is that, most often, the farmer bears the expense of managing these weeds. Farmers will then crop the disturbed area, eliminating the benefits it offers, from filtration to habitat to access.
It’s hard to blame the counties and municipalities for allowing these publically-owned right-of-ways to be farmed as it’s the cheapest and easiest way to manage the weed problem, and no one’s complaining about it. The only practical solution is to keep plows out of these places in the first place.