2017-142: Fungal suppression as a means to increase range health following leafy spurge invasion
Researcher: Jonathan Bennett
Leafy spurge has plagued North America since the 1800’s, though methods to efficiently and effectively eliminate this invasive species has been difficult to find. This weed can reduce the carrying capacity of a pasture to near zero. This new researcher from the University of Saskatchewan proposes the use of a fungicide to attack fungi that are commonly noted alongside leafy spurge, without affecting other beneficial plants.
Small experiments were spread across Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Elbow, North Battleford, and Weyburn, where researchers applied a fungicide to suppress the symbiotic fungi (Senator®) and combined that with herbicide (2,4-D) or mowing. While using fungicide or herbicide alone did yield some improvements, using both reduced spurge by 70% and increased grass by 40%.
There are some considerations moving forward. First, using fungicide did reduce the phosphorus content of the grass plants. The researchers applied the fungicide frequently during the growing season, so appropriate levels that are practical for producers need to be identified. The researchers would like to further consider the effects of fungicide in a native prairie ecosystem, as there was a reduction in native species and broadleaf plants, and an increase in tame species.
For a technical presentation of this research, click here: https://www.pcap-sk.org/rsu_docs/documents/32-1-bennett-nprw-2020.pdf
Also, click on this for a news story on this research: https://agbio.usask.ca/alumni-and-giving/agknowledge_issues/2020/striking-at-the-roots-of-leafy-spurge.php