Dry and dusty

News

Dry and dusty

Despite snow, southwestern La Plata County may stay parched
Sterling Moss, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, tests the moisture content of a field of winter wheatgrass recently near Breen. Last year, dust storms caused problems for farmers and ranchers in southwestern La Plata County, and they may again, if the area doesn’t receive adequate precipitation.
Sterling Moss, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, recommends several methods of reducing wind erosion, including planting grass on unused land and planting cover crops after harvest to retain the soil. “A lot of these practices are not new,” Moss says. “They’ve been on the books a long time.”

Dry and dusty

Sterling Moss, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, tests the moisture content of a field of winter wheatgrass recently near Breen. Last year, dust storms caused problems for farmers and ranchers in southwestern La Plata County, and they may again, if the area doesn’t receive adequate precipitation.
Sterling Moss, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, recommends several methods of reducing wind erosion, including planting grass on unused land and planting cover crops after harvest to retain the soil. “A lot of these practices are not new,” Moss says. “They’ve been on the books a long time.”
Weeds don’t help in the fight against dust

When it comes to controlling dust, although any plant life is helpful, grasses are far preferable to weeds. Grass stems are much closer together and therefore hold the soil in place better, said Rod Cook, La Plata County weed manager.
A stand of grass is also far healthier for domestic and wild animals grazing on the land.
The top three noxious and invasive weeds locally are Russian knapweed, yellow toadflax and leafy spurge, Cook said. They are particularly tough to fight because they have deep roots.
Each species requires a different management technique. Cook can help landowners select the right combination of strategies to fight the weeds.
Call him at 382-6470 or email at cookrd@co.laplata.co.us.
Leafy spurge
Avoid pulling this weed because it has a caustic sap that can cause chemical burns and cause blindness. It can also blister the legs of horses, elk and cattle that are forced to walk through it. It also will reduce the quality of grazing pasture.
Russian knapweed
Despite four years of drought, the Russian knapweed is surviving and spreading. It is poisonous to horses, donkeys and mules and creates lesions on their brains that will eventually kill them. It does not help to pull, shovel or till the weed. It generally requires a herbicide treatment that depends on its proximity to trees and water.
Yellow toadflax
This plant has an extensive range and can flourish in habitats ranging from the desert to the alpine tundra. It doesn’t readily respond to herbicide.

If you go

The Animas Watershed Partnership will hold a soil health workshop from noon to 5 p.m. March 17 at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave. It will cover general soil health, irrigation and pasture management. The Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide free soil-sample testing for the first 80 people who register.

Reader Comments
click here to add your event
Area Events