Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Scientists Prove Goats Are Better Than Chemical Weedkillers

Photograph By Thinkstock
Rodale News | Sep 29, 2014 |  Julia Westbrook

Science proves what farmers already know: Goats make excellent weedkillers.

Herbivores—not herbicides—is the way to go, according to research published in the journal PeerJ.

The researchers compared the effectiveness of goats versus chemical herbicides against the common reed—a grass that is overrunning coastal wetlands from New England to the Southeast. "For more than two decades, we've declared major chemical and physical warfare on this grass, using all the latest man-made weapons," says Brian R. Silliman, PhD, associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "We've used helicopters to spray it with herbicides and bulldozers to remove its roots. More often than not, however, it returns."

So, they were excited when goats—cheap, environmentally-sustainable goats—proved to be an effective solution. "We find that allowing controlled grazing by goats or other livestock in severely affected marshes can reduce the stem density of [reed] cover by about half in around three weeks," Silliman explains.
Not only are goats less toxic (obviously), but they're also much more affordable than chemical sprays. Separate studies also showed that horses and cows are also effective against this invasive grass.

Silliman points out that everyone (well, except the chemical companies) wins with this solution: The marshes aren't polluted with toxins, the farmers get a new source of income by renting out their livestock (and the goats get a free meal), and the land managers get a cheap fix for the issue. Plus, with a cheap, effective, and safe solution, the problems caused by the grasses can be solved quickly, allowing everyone to enjoy the beautiful beach views again.

H/T Health Impact News

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