Assessment, Technology, Machinery, Implementation and Training


The Brushworker at Hilo, Hawaii landfill. The grappler loader allows thick piles of brush to be separated
and spread out. The shredder turns them into mulch. No single other machine can handle a 15' brush pile.

See Dan's Gallery of Pictures and Documents for more

SALT CEDAR REMOVAL

Salt Cedar (Tamarisk) is another example of an invasive species that was naively introduced, and then has gone on to take over and crowd out the native plants. This blight is expanding across the south west. Salt cedar currently infests an estimated 1.5 million acres along waterways in the western United States. As a wily competitor for resources, a single acre of the invasive plant can suck up more than 2.8 million gallons of water in a single year, according to researchers from the Texas Cooperative Extension.

Many programs are being being developed to eradicate it such as cutting and spraying. Experiments have begun to counter salt cedar with a biological control using Chinese leaf beetle, Diorhabda elongata.  Introducing new biologicals into a non-native environment can lead to a cascading disruption of the environment, and these tests are being carefully monitored

NWCI is conducting salt cedar eradication trials with a combination of removal by shredder (masticator), followed by springtime goat-grazing of young shoots. This purely "mechanical" approach is rapid and free from possible
adverse effects. The shredder-mower (Bull Hog) can level acres per hour, an enormous improvement over costly chainsaw crews. No herbicides are needed. See pictures here.

 

Juniper-Pinon Pine Removal
Nevada estimates that it loses 50,000 acres per year of sage ecology/wildlife habitat to pinon pine and juniper encroachment. Since European settlement the natural controlling element of fire has been prevented in last 150 years.

Pinon pine/Juniper are a major fire hazard in many western states. They also present suburban fire hazards. NWCI has found that the most efficient method of clearance is with the new genre of tractor-mounted forestry shredders, that do not require hand-feeding. See pictures of what a shredder can do in 25 seconds.

 
 
Fog farming
Plants can receive much of their water aerially through their stomata, independently of water taken up through the roots. This can provide an effective solution for uneven, arid, and hillside plantings.

Water is jetted through custom venturi nozzles, creating a suspension that can drift down the slopes without eroding them.

Nutrient solutions can be added to the fog; in addition the stomata can be stimulated to absorb more, increasing yields dramatically.

 
Fire reduction through low growth removal
NWCI was a presenter at the 2003 Western U&M Forum in Ft. Collins, CO.

Nationwide forest fires have led to the beginning of coordinated efforts with federal and state agencies to develop cost-effective methods of removing low growth brush and small trees which promote the spread of fires.

Current efforts visualize removing the brush (perhaps to wood processing or ethanol plants), but the cost of transportation to get it out of the remote and inaccessible areas is prohibitive.

One solution: mulching the wood right on the spot, and leaving it there. Conventional chippers are not up to the job. But the Bull Hog is.

Learn more here.

 

Floating Gardens

NWCI is experimenting with gardens on barges (see an example here); the plant roots take up water as needed; pests such as deer or rabbits are thwarted.

 

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website updated Globat July 17,, 2008  archival update Aug 1 2012