Successful long-term management programs for prairies and grasslands should be designed to include a combination of protection for native species, and implementation of biological, cultural, mechanical, and herbicide management methods for invasive plants.
This is particularly true in restoration programs where seedling establishment is dependent upon suppression of competitive plants that may be present on the site. Enhancing the ecological health and integrity of prairies and grasslands can be achieved by identifying management actions that will promote a healthy, weed-resistant plant community that consists of diverse groups of species that occupy most of the abiotic niches.
The following guidelines and considerations support an invasive plant management strategy on grasslands and prairies:
- Identify the goal(s) you want to achieve such as enhance forage quantity and quality, restore prairie vegetation, improve wildlife habitat, protect existing grassland, etc.
- Identify and accurately delineate lands infested with invasive plants. Knowing the location and extent of an infestation can help to determine the control/management method needed, prioritize management strategies, and identify areas where eradication, containment or control can be achieved.
- Prioritize sites where treatments will most effectively contain and control the infestation while minimizing impact to native species.
- Identify management constraints such as environmental, financial, technological, social, and operational.
- Gain a thorough understanding of the biology and ecology of the invasive weed(s) you are managing, including susceptible habitat, spread vectors, impact on desired goals, etc.
- Review effectiveness of each management method on the target plant including mechanical, cultural, biological, and herbicide methods. Then integrate management techniques that will optimize control.
- Be flexible. Use long-term monitoring and evaluation to identify strengths and weaknesses in your strategies and methods. Adapt management approaches to improve effectiveness and prevent reinvading populations from becoming established.
- Plan for a long-term commitment to your management program. Many invasive plants have seeds that remain viable in the soil for eight years or more, so long-term monitoring and follow-up management will be necessary for successful control.