Thursday, July 26, 2012

Using Eurasian milfoil as Fertilizer


For the past couple weeks I have been working on my project as the invasive species research intern at VINS.  I am using the idea of “Invasives as an ally” and trying to utilize Eurasian milfoil as a fertilizer for the garden. The garden site is very dry and low in nutrients and the mineral content of Eurasian milfoil has been shown to improve soil richness and increase organic matter.  In the future I hope to do more research on all the benefits this plant has to offer.

Eurasion milfoil
 Eurasian milfoil spreads easily and quickly by fragments dispersed from the plant. The fragmentation occurs by either the plants’ autofragmentation after flowering or human activity such as boating or swimming. Milfoil most often will out-compete the native plants surrounding it for light and soil nutrients (Buchan, Padilla 2000). These are some of the many reasons that controlling milfoil is important. The idea behind “Invasives as an ally” is to find a way to encourage local communities to control the plant in a way that could temporarily benefit them.

Snorkeling to remove milfoil roots
In order to collect the Eurasian milfoil to be used as a fertilizer I have been working with the US Army Corp of Engineers in pulling the milfoil from Dewey Pond in Quechee, VT. The pond is practically filled with milfoil. Gary Pelton from the Army Corp has been working on it for years to try and eliminate the spread of the milfoil. The first day was spent canoeing to collect the tops of the plant, resulting in a large quantity of milfoil, while the next couple days was spent snorkeling for the roots.  The next week will be spent contacting more resources in order to get the plants needed in order to start planting for the native plant garden!

Buchan, L., Padilla, D. 2000. Predicting the Likelihood of Eurasian milfoil Presence in Lakes, a Macrophyte Monitoring Tool. Ecological Applications 10(5):1442-1455

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