Quality Vegetation Management: Enhancing Nature’s Bounty: Part 2

In Part 2, we will look at ways herbicides can help control vegetation.

In the early 1980s, BASF chemists were formulating a herbicide. During development it was tested on railroad tracks and industrial sites for effectiveness at controlling weeds that could become a safety risk. The herbicide, later named Arsenal AC, killed much of the unwanted weeds, brush, and hardwood seedlings. Interestingly, researchers noted that forbs and legumes such as lespedeza, partridge pea and beggarweed, grew back quickly as did blackberries, dewberries, and pine.

Realizing the importance of the finding, BASF entered into a research and development program with the Auburn University Sibricultural Herbicide Cooperative in Auburn, Ala. Arsenal was further tested there by using it for site preparation in areas planted with loblolly pines.

A “Smart” Discovery
The selective “smart” herbicide removed undesirable hardwoods in areas prepared for planting pines. It also killed many of the exotic, non-native plants such as cogongrass, kudzu, and Chinese privet. These foreign invaders grow in much of the Southeast, choking out the native species. The hardwood’s removal allowed germination and growth of native plants that may have been lying dormant for many years, unable to grow due to the shaded conditions. Moisture, rooting space and nutrients became available as well. Sumac, plantain, milkweed, poke ragweed, and American beautyberry (French mulberry) germinated in the optimum conditions.

Obviously, this discovery would directly affect wildlife, enhancing and increasing natural food sources. The increase in volume and variety of plant foods led to the next stage of research — nutritional quality.

Quality, Quantity
Wildlife managers want to know the nutritional value of wildlife foods they grow. Research included test area evaluation of the nutritional value of plants after Arsenal AC treatment. Holding a handful of native plants pulled from a treated feeding lane, Dr. Jeanne Jones, Mississippi State University associate professor and wildlife biologist, says, “Deer naturally seek plants with at least 14 percent protein levels. Analysis revealed that depending on soil fertilization, weather conditions and other factors, legumes, (partridge pea, beggarweed and lespedeza) will produce 20 percent to 26 percent protein in the foliage especially within two to three years following Arsenal AC application. All wildlife forage species considered, the level is closer to 20 percent, making the areas very attractive to deer.”

Jones is quick to add she endorses the use of Arsenal AC for managing habitats by using it to fit the characteristics of specific site conditions.

Established feeding lanes in mature pine forests offer wildlife nutritious forage.

“There’s no doubt deer and turkey habitat can be increased with the use of selective herbicides,” Jones adds. Displaying a handful of tiny seeds she emphasizes the benefits to quail, turkey, and songbirds as well.

Not surprisingly, within test areas desirable forbs volume (measured in pounds per acre) increased by as much as 33 fold over undesirable brush. Enhanced wildlife carrying capacity lands under QVM translates to increased opportunities for hunters and top lease prices for landowners.

Where To Use Arsenal
Dr. Steve Demarais is a professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at Mississippi State. Specifically, he focuses on the ecology and management of whitetail deer populations. Dr. Demarais suggests using Arsenal AC treatment in selected areas in combination with traditional food plots to improve nutritional habitat quality for deer.

Demarais demonstrated an effective way to enhance wildlife habitat within young pine stands. Standing in the center of the Hub and Spokes, Demarais explains, “Long lanes similar to the spokes of a wheel were established in the young pines. Arsenal AC was applied to prepare the site prior to fertilizing and planting wildlife food crops. This makes the pines more accessible for hunting and wildlife viewing. Most importantly, it provides a wildlife food source within the area between the time tree canopy closes and the first thinning. An enclosed elevated platform positioned in the center of the hub allows hunting and viewing of all lanes.”

Road Edge Management
It is especially beneficial to apply Arsenal AC along edges of roads throughout hunting areas to remove undesirable hardwood encroachment and hanging limbs. Controlling low-quality brush allows sunlight to reach the roadbed encouraging growth of native herbaceous food plants preferred by wildlife. Wildlife viewing is enhanced as animals are attracted to the open area. The widened road offers ease of travel, increased natural forage, and room for disking on one side to provide bugs and dusting areas for turkeys and quail, or for plantings. Remember to fertilize.

Wildlife Feeding Lanes
Establish natural feeding lanes within managed mature pine stands. Arsenal AC should be applied in the fall. By spring, the hardwood understory growth is dead. Prescribed fire in the spring, if possible, removes debris. Native plants quickly emerge. Fertilizer (0-22-26) is applied at 200 pounds per acre in late summer. In the course of one year, the treated area transforms from a nutritional wasteland to a wildlife-feeding lane. The herbicide’s effect lasts for years. The cost in terms of money and time is low. Where fire is not an option, bush hogging can be used to chop and disperse heavy brushy debris.

Another way to create feeding lanes in mature crop pines without burning can be accomplished with a late summer application of Arsenal AC in 50-foot swaths to the undergrowth. Later strip disk to establish dusting lanes and an annual grass community. Strips can also be fertilized and planted with food crops such as the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Spring Mix, or Mossy Oak’s Full Draw.

Boost your odds for hunting success! Strip disk and fertilize pine plantations then plant food crops in such as NWTF’s Spring Mix, Mossy Oak’s Full Draw or Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover.

The Natural Food Plot
Sometimes a hunter finds a killer spot for a food plot, but has no easy way to create it. Arsenal AC and fertilizer allows the dedicated hunter to establish “secret spots,” natural greenfields that other hunters won’t see. Simply load Arsenal AC according to directions into a backpack sprayer and spray the brushy area to kill the undesirable brush. Later, return and broadcast fertilize. The new, nutritious growth will attract deer. This is especially effective in areas of low deer production, attracting deer to a specific area.

Keep in mind extremely dense vegetation may prevent accessibility to wildlife into an area. Arsenal AC can be used to create wildlife corridors.

Hack And Squirt To Help The Hardwoods
Bowhunters will find this helpful. Locate desirable mast trees (oak, beech, etc.) around, which sweet gum, elm and other undesirable trees grow, interfering with growth and obstructing the hunter’s view. The procedure is simple.

Bobby Watkins demonstrated on a sweet gum 8 inches in diameter.

“The procedure requires the use of a hatchet, gloves and a spray bottle filled with Arsenal AC. For any tree 1 inch in diameter and up, strike it on the side, slashing off the bark, to create an opening. Inject the herbicide by spraying the opening with 1 milliliter of herbicide then walk away from it. It only takes seconds to make one cut. As a rule, make one cut for every 3 inches of tree diameter. Apply 1 milliliter of Arsenal per cut. The tree will begin to die from the top down.

By managing understory growth and opening up the woods, Arsenal AC increases hunter visibility and safety. Improved wildlife viewing allows hunters participating in Quality Deer Management programs extra moments to observe before deciding if a buck meets harvest standards.

Points To Remember
* Before using a herbicide such as Arsenal AC on private or public lands, be sure to gain permission from the owner.

* Arsenal AC is a selective herbicide. It only affects enzymes found in certain plants without harming pine crop trees, insects, animals, birds, fish, or humans.

* Arsenal AC is low in cost, easy to apply, and treatment lasts up to 10 years.

* Introducing fire, mechanical cutting, or disking to remove debris and control vegetation after Arsenal AC treatment is helpful. Tailor QVM to fit your specific objective.

* Fertilizing treated areas speeds growth and enhances nutritional quality.

Like to Know More?
For more information about Quality Vegetation Management and how Arsenal AC can enhance your forestland’s growth and improve wildlife habitat, call the experts at BASF: 1-800-545-9525. To locate your nearest forestry consultant, or to learn more about the BASF product line, go to www.forestryfacts.com

Discover a fine selection of food plot seed and minerals at Sportsman’s Guide.

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