There comes a time when habitat is out of control. At Mayberry we’re there. The back breaker was the conversion of the island’s primary agricultural use to cattle grazing with summer irrigation.
With the ditches filled to the brim with irrigation water, our ponds remain wet all summer. We’ve been unable to disk or mow our ponds, to the extent needed, for years. Expanding unhindered, cattails are now so thick that a dog cannot swim through them, let alone a hunter on his feet.
We no longer plant grain and have used cattle, sheep and goats to control the plants, but that has converted much of the property from broadleaf to grass, especially burmuda grass, which is thick and untilable.
Acres of habitat are not usable to us or wildlife. The only solution, aerial spraying. A heliocopter is the best tool for this job. Hiring the plane for two hours at a rate of $1250 per hour is not cheap, but it is a solution.
To kill the unwanted cattails, tules, berries, and fragmities along with some additional burmuda grass control took about 3 quarts of roundup per acre, covering about 95 acres with a material price totalling about $2,100.
Out the door, that’s approximately $4,600 and some change. We hope that in about two weeks, we’ll be able to assess the kill and begin the next phase of the process. It will include some chopping, some plowing, maybe some planting and definitely some irrigation to bring on some of the desirable duck foods like watergrass.
It will be an interesting process – setting back the succession of plants and hopefully rejuvinating the habitat.