The carbide-tipped teeth of the Fecon Forestry Mower can make quick work of heavy undergrowth.
"You can have an army of guys in there and it's not going to have this impact."
-- Clay Frazer
The Seno Woodland Education Center, south of Burlington, is operated by the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Assn. to provide educaiton services for students, educators and landowners.
EC3 is an environmental consulting company offering a variety of land management services. Its mailing address is P.O. Box 44281, Madison, WI 53744-4291; email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 608-497-0955.
In battle against brush,
mower is a powerful weapon
In an instant, small trees and shrubs become just so many woodchips. The yellow machine with a red mouth moves through the woods with amazing speed, like a hungry monster, devouring everything in its path.
But there are no monsters in the woods, of course.
This is a Fecon Forestry Mower, a tracked vehicle that looks a little like a Bobcat, with a special head that has a revolving carbide-tipped drum that chews up everything.
The $100,000 machine got a demonstration – and a workout – in November at the
Clay Frazer, a land management consultant, gave the presentation, and Bob Wick, land management technician, explained and operated the mower during a demonstration of its prowess.
But while the forestry mower seems to work miracles, the point of the presentation was that controlling any invasive species is not a one shot deal – it’s a continuing battle. Nevertheless, the mower is well equipped to “fire the first shot” in the battle. The hammer teeth on the drum are able to chip away woody material and grind it up, right down to the root collar of the tree.
“You can have an army of guys in there and it’s not going to have this impact,” Frazer told the audience of about 40 people.
He noted that buckthorn is very hard to get rid of because of it phenomenal ability to recover with a multi-stem plant where there was once just one trunk before. Plus, at just five to eight years on average, the buckthorn can produce seed. Therefore, trees producing seed should be the landowner’s No. 1 consideration.
“It can take as little as three years or up to 10 years [to produce seed],” he said, depending on the amount of light available to the plants. Buckthorn can take over a woods so thoroughly that it can completely stop regeneration.
The forestry mower is not a silver bullet, Frazer said.
“What this is designed to do,” he said, “is give you a window – a place to get a foothold and continue on to additional work.”
The cost to have the forestry mower come onto your property and clear out a woodlot is between $175 and $250 an hour, based on the site, total hours contracted and distance from
Vigilance is imperative after the “mowing” operation, and follow-up spraying is part of that. Fall is the best time because the roots are trying to draw in nutrients and therefore absorb the poison better. It can also minimize collateral damage to nearby desirable species because they often go dormant before some of the worst invasives. Buckthorn, for instance, holds its leaves and stays green longer than most other species.
EC3 recommends a 2% solution of Dow Chemical’s Garlon4 (the active ingredient is triclopyr) for spraying foliage in the fall after the cutting of the invasives. The generic version of triclopyr is Element 4 or Tahoe 4E.
You can also spray immediately after cutting, particularly if it’s done in the fall, using a stronger solution of Garlon – 15 to 20% – and targeting just the cambium (or bark) layer. Don’t bother spraying the center of a cut stump. It’s just dead wood, and you waste your expensive herbicide.
“Don’t cut more than you can spray on a given day,” said Frazer. And use a marker dye in the herbicide so you can tell which stumps you have sprayed and which still need to be done.
A third approach is called basal bark treatment. For this you leave the tree standing but paint or spray a 12- to 15-inch swath of herbicide around the entire base of the tree. Frazer said this takes a 20% solution of Garlon, or 26 ounces per gallon. This leaves the trees standing, however, until they rot and fall down.
One drawback of triclopyr is that it does not biodegrade as quickly as glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, Frazer said, but it still breaks down within a month and Garlon is far more effective for killing woody invasives.
Frazer suggested that landowners experiment with various tactics and keep detailed records.
“Start small to avoid frustration,” he said.
The greatest pitfall for a landowner is to think that one herbicide application will be a cure-all. Again, it comes back to that basic idea: constant vigilance.
-- Posted 11/29/09