Of course you can set up a business anywhere where you simply eradicate things or attempt to keep them under control but this thread will be concerned with those plants and animals which can be profitably harvested for the resource they provide. In just about every area there is some invasive on which the government and private landowners are spending money. There's also the potential of receiving free labor since volunteers are often sought in eradication programs. I got a nice big truckload of scotch broom when volunteers were clearing it from a park. It's a legume which improves the soil greatly so I composted it.
The list. I'm making a list of some of the more obvious plants and animals which may be harvested profitably. Please add to this list.
Bamboo. Many areas in the southern US are overrun with golden bamboo. It's not timber quality stuff but would be fine for garden uses. It tends to invade the lower portions of watersheds and any area of moist soil adjacent to human habitations. This plant has caused major problems for some of the state parks and there is potential to tap into environmental protection money when harvesting this on state or federal land. If you live in Hawaii or Puerto Rico there are much larger and more useful species of bamboo which have gotten into parks and other wild areas.
Fig trees, eucalyptus and 100 others. Whether you're in the Everglades, California or Louisiana there are trees which were imported for ornamental use which have now become well established in wilderness areas. With any of these you'll want to determine whether there is a market for the wood and most importantly seek permission and assistance from what ever level of government you're dealing with.
Fish. Silver carp are a large fish which are running rampant through many of the waterways connected to the Mississippi. Check out YouTube, invasive carp. They are moving north and west and it's predicted that they will be in Canadian waters within about five years. This is potentially the worst aquatic invasion North America has ever seen since they eat everything including the eggs of other species and they completely change the natural environment. When boats drive past they jump clear of the water. People speeding by in motorboats have been hit by 40 pound fish. This jumping habit could be used against them as they could be caught in aerial nets thus preventing by catch of native species. This fish may be marketable to certain Asian and European markets or to immigrants who have come from those societies. Carp also make good chicken feed and fertilizer. Although it will probably never be expensive like salmon it could be used to feed more desired species. Blue tilapia and other tilapia were accidentally introduced into the southern US generations ago and in many areas they have become the dominant fish species. As with any invasive fish there will be harvesting rules which are meant to protect native species. Generally if you can prove to the authorities that you've created a system to capture the invasive without harming the natives a successful business can develop. There are dozens of other invasive fish but I think those two represent the most economic potential.
Birds. There are approximately 25 different species of exotic parrot living within the Everglades. These birds have made life very difficult for some of the native species. I'm not going to pretend to know how they should be captured but if you can get hundreds of them in a cage I'm sure they'll have value to the pet industry. Canada geese. Although these are a native bird they have become hugely problematic in many urban areas and should be controlled through hunting. They have also become a huge problem in New Zealand.
Mammals. Feral hogs are rampant in Hawaii and in many of the southern states. There is a TV show on discovery dedicated to live capture of these critters. I think I'd feel safer capturing them with a rifle or in traps. Wild horses. I know I won't make a lot of friends with this one but horses are not native to North America yet they have become well-established in some areas. They compete with mountain sheep and other natives for forage and they bully some of the native species. The problem with horses is that none of our natural predators want to be kicked by a horse so they are free to increase in numbers beyond what the rangeland can handle. Lots of people in Europe eat horse meat. I've eaten it. I also participated in the capture of wild horses when I was a kid. We chased them down with a station wagon until they finally gave up and walked through our gate. When he was only 10 years old my older brother won every race in our corner of rural Ontario on the back of an Arab stallion which we caught in this manner. Other critters. It's tough to sell animal furs these days so I'm not sure what what can be done with all of the smaller mammals which have gone feral so I'm just putting it out there as they do exist.
Please add to this list and give us any insight you have into how to harvest or capture the problem species.
Saliniva-an aquatic weed that can cover a lake with thick mats.Has killed 4 of the 5 boating marinas on my lake.Thankfully this last hard cold winter killed it. LSU AG had tried all kinds of things even introducing a beetle to no avail....Makes great fertilizer and pig/chicken feed tho.
If I can find a safe way to deal with buttercups and giant hogweed I could retire, but damit that juice they spit sure makes one error in dehydrating an animal poison.
Fireweed would make a hell of a pelleted fertilizer for potassium, and fern's make for good bedding and fuel.
I'm only interested in my system's internal purposes at the moment due to the limit's of having 2 hands and 2 feet and only 1 back.
But money saved is easier to accumulate than money earned. So it's really a matter of what your field of interest is, I see no reason why invasive weed meal wouldn't be better for the soil than alfalfa meal. Wisteria just doesn't grow to 40 feet without having some serious nutrient's accumulated, they would take forever to breakdown as mulch, but would go quick through a chipper and mill for storage or resale.
All I'm speaking from is from just 1 acre on the forest edge, I can't image all the vigorous pioneer species there are to discover if I was to expand to the entire lower mainland. Id really like a wood lice trap that works it's just theres to much decomposing matter available to attract them, throw those suckers into the dryer and into the feed and now your verging on a real whole food for poultry.
I'm not For pellet's my ducks hated them when I first started off, in fact they can't stand any feed that's not at least organic if they have the choice. My eyes really opened up to what's abundantly available once I started including different animals needs into my picture. Bee's are why I still have a half acre of buttercups, rabbit's the blackberry, and ducks the slugs.
I think our location has allot to offer it's just a matter of straining your awareness to vaguer and vaguer references of information to build up an identification system.
Most of what I never imagined as forage came off anecdote from forum's rather than textbooks. Someone says hey I feed my rabbit's maples, and voila a 70 foot giant mapple that's sitting right at the edge of the forest just became 50 pounds of fodder in the summer and 150 pounds of bedding in the winter. I can't wait to get more scotch broom for the bee's and knotweed for the mulch.
Firstly, Signal crayfish has decimated the population of European crayfish in most waterways in the UK due to the plague the Signal crayfish carry. So, considering there's a near enough endless supply of these blighters, you could get permission from land owners to harvest crayfish and sell to restaurants, or cook and sell them yourself (assuming there's a market). I'm not sure about legalities but as long as you and the land owner are in accord and you're killing them humanely you might be ok.
Secondly, Rhododendron ponticum is something that a lot of National Parks, private land owners and the Forestry Commission are keen to eradicate. I believe grants may be available remove it (one source of income if you offer your services) and if you manufacture charcoal from the woody material you potentially have another form of income. There may be problems with toxicity but according to some research done by Bangor University (if I remember correctly) charcoal made from Rhododendron isn't toxic/poisonous/whatever.
Finally, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed (possibly others... Buddleia?) attract quite a bit of attention from the powers that be and cause quite a lot of grief for land owners. There could be opportunities dealing with these although I'm not aware of any products that could be made from them. Might be able to make charcoal out of buddleia.
I had a good idea for anyone who lives on the prairies and has trouble with Tumbleweed. If a V-shaped fence were built with the opening pointing toward the prevailing wind, large quantities of Tumbleweed could be captured and run through a chipper for compostable biomass or as a substitute for firewood. It's funny when you watch old Westerns set in a time before the Civil War and there's lots of Tumbleweed. It didn't arrive in North America until 1885.
dale hodgins wrote:
So do you have a business idea surrounding Kudzu or other weeds? Is the vine woody enough to be woven into something?
Kudzu flowers, shoots, root, etc. are edible and used as human foods as well as medicine. It is very pleasant and healthy. Kind of addictive. Rather than spraying it we should be eating it. (Note: I'm not saying we should plant or transport it. That's *illegal* here in the US.)
There's potentially quite a few opportunities dealing with non-native invasive species in the UK.
and if you manufacture charcoal from the woody material you potentially have another form of income. There may be problems with toxicity but according to some research done by Bangor University (if I remember correctly) charcoal made from Rhododendron isn't toxic/poisonous/whatever.
Might be able to make charcoal out of buddleia.
Going further afield with the invasive species, harvest for profit theme, Australians have been overrun with many invasives which are large enough to harvest.
Anyone in the moist northern areas should be able to get plenty of nitrogen and other nutrients from composted cane toads. They are one of the worlds worst invasive species problems and killing them is already encouraged. One of the easiest creatures to capture.
There are huge areas which have been taken over by cacti and other succulents whose juices may be useful in natural plasters and paints.
Bamboo is available in some areas and should be managed as a resource.
Camels and water buffalo are already processed commercially and this should be continued up to and including eradication. The same could be said for feral pigs. I recall watching a documentary where a game warden shot some of the last wild horses in Queensland since they were dying in an almost dry mud wallow during extreme drought. If horses have come back since then, this will happen again so they might as well be harvested.
New Zealand has a huge problem with Canada geese. These should be hunted for food especially within the citys where they are most problematic.
Beavers have invaded the southern islands of Patagonia and now threaten the South American mainland. They are edible but because furs are only worth $20 each this would be a tough enterprise to carry out for resource value only. They were imported from Canada back when pelts had great value. The list goes on.
Please post and tell us how you would deal with and make money from invasives in your part of the world.
Although I would never "wish" for invasives, I do envy some areas that are being overrun in edible invasives. Maybe someone could send me some smoked silver carp or bamboo biochar....
Kudzu Basket have been used for centuries in the creation of fiber art - particularly basketry and clothing. Some of the oldest archeological sites in southeast Asia include kudzu fiber clothing and basketry. Today, contemporary artists use kudzu for basketry and fiber art. Their work varies in technique and style. Kudzu vine is very easy to use for basketry purposes because of its ability to be split, dried and stored until the weaver is ready to use it. Once it's soaked in warm water and flattened, the vine is ready to be used. Both 'runners' and the larger vines that grow in trees can be used for basketry depending on the style and size of the basket you may want to make.
Soil improvement and preservation
Kudzu has been used as a form of erosion control and also to enhance the soil. As a legume, it increases the nitrogen in the soil via a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Its deep taproots also transfer valuable minerals from the subsoil to the topsoil, thereby improving the topsoil. In the deforested section of the central Amazon Basin in Brazil, it has been used for improving the soil pore-space in clay latosols, and thus freeing even more water for plants than in the soil prior to deforestation.
Kudzu can be used by grazing animals as it is high in quality as a forage and palatable to livestock. It can be grazed until frost and even slightly after. Kudzu had been used in the southern United States specifically to feed goats on land that had limited resources. Kudzu hay typically has a 15–18% crude protein content and over 60% total digestible nutrient value. The quality of the leaves decrease, however, as vine content increases relative to the leaf content. Kudzu also has low forage yields despite its great deal of growth, yielding around two to four tons of dry matter per acre annually. It is also difficult to bale due to its vining growth and its slowness in shedding water. This makes it necessary to place kudzu hay under sheltered protection after being baled. Kudzu is readily consumed by all types of grazing animals, yet frequent grazing over 3 to 4 years can ruin stands. Thus kudzu only serves well as a grazing crop on a temporary basis.
The Harvard Medical School is studying kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings, by turning an extracted compound from the herb into a medical drug. The mechanism for this is not yet established, but it may have to do with both alcohol metabolism and the reward circuits in the brain.
Kudzu also contains a number of useful isoflavones, including daidzein (an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent). Daidzin is a cancer preventive and is structurally related to genistein (an antileukemic agent). Kudzu is a unique source of the isoflavone puerarin. Kudzu root compounds can affect neurotransmitters (including serotonin, GABA, and glutamate.) It has shown value in treating migraine and cluster headaches. It is recommended for allergies and diarrhea.
Research in mice models suggests that kudzu is beneficial in women for control of some postmenopausal symptoms, such as hypertension and diabetes type II.
In traditional Chinese medicine(TCM), where it is known as gé gēn (Chinese: 葛根), kudzu is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It is used to treat tinnitus, vertigo, and Wei syndrome (superficial heat).
Kudzu has traditionally been used as a remedy for alcoholism and hangover in China. The root was used to prevent excessive consumption, while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards. Some TCM hangover remedies are marketed with kudzu as one of their active ingredients (e.g. Hangover Busters.) This has also been a common use in areas of the Southeastern United States.
It has also shown promise for treating Alzheimer's disease.
It may help diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Kuzumochi (葛餅), Japanese style Kudzu starch cake (Katori city, Japan)The roots contain starch, which has traditionally been used as a food ingredient in East Asia.
In Japan, the plant is known as kuzu and the starch named kuzuko. Kuzuko is used as in dishes including kuzumochi, mizu manjū, and kuzuyu.
In Vietnam, the starch called bột sắn dây is flavoured with pomelo oil and then used as a drink in the summer.
In the Southern United States, kudzu is used to make soaps, lotions, jelly, and compost. In Japan, kudzu powder is used to make a sort of herbal tea called kuzuyu. It has even been suggested that kudzu may become a valuable asset for the production of cellulosic ethanol.
The fiber is used traditionally and has also been investigated for potential uses such as clothing, wallpaper, and paper.
It has been used for centuries in East Asia to make tea, health tonics, and fibers for kimonos.
So...., we caught a 1/2 dozen of them the other day and cooked them up (these were adults, around 2" long). We boiled them first, they turned red like lobster. Then we fried them with garlic and butter. Not much taste, aside from the garlic, but it started us down the road of eating our pests...
If we were forced to live off the land only this year, insects, like the grasshoppers would have been a major food source for us (nothing else did well).
In most areas, there are tons of pests like this, and as long as your neighbors aren't using pesticides, they could be a very beneficial addition to your food source.
Jeffrey Hodgins wrote:Gallium, Bedstraw or Cleavers makes a great drink and it's highly invasive in my raspberries. Many people whine about them scratching there arms while they pick the free berries when all they have to do is harvest it. It also makes a nice mulch because it mats together hence the name bedstraw. Harvest is really fast again because it clings together as up grab big armfuls. It is said to cleanse the lymphatic system and boost immunity.
My chickens and cattle seek out cleavers and devour it greedily. I have made sure to spread it all through my pastures.
The non-native snakes of the Everglades: Meat, hides, glands, hog food, feed for aligator farms, bait for feral pigs, and "hunts" to harvest tourist dollars. Upright barrel traps with a inverted cone opening in top to allow them in and pheramones to lure them in. Many non-native mammals could be put to simular useage.
Kudzu: There are several local businesses that make 'grapevine' wreaths that really made from kudzu. According to most local farmers and ranchers, livestock feed on kudzu as a last choice and gives them "gas". If you want to use it for biomass, remember each section joint can root and start another vine. So chop/grind it fine and compost it well before adding it to soil.
Market for crayfish, try the oilrig workers. Alot of them are from the gulf states of the U.S.
Saybian Morgan wrote:I'm going after the invasive forest edge mints, bindweeds, nettles, salmon berry, cattails, cottenwood and so on. All can be dried and ground into feed for their appropriate species.
ok, I'm with you 100% on the broom and himalayan blackberry...but when you start talking nettles / salmonberry / cattails / fireweed etc. that's different. Mabe some of those are early seral species, but they aren't invasive and they've got a place here. I just think they aren't 'game on' for full exploitation the way an invasive alien that's damaging the ecosystem is.
Dale, while you're cleaning up Vancouver island, please don't forgot to catch and eat(sell to high end restaurants?) the Bullfrogs on the south island, while we still have some native fish left in the creeks. You could also gather Sargassum seaweed which is trashing the intertidal...it would make great compost / fertilizer you could sell, and probably has some value as an edible if we could rein in some of the pulp mills around there with their contaminants.
English ivy poses a greater risk to natural areas of the wet Pacific coast of North America than does any other plant. In parks near the cities it becomes so dominant that all other ground cover is choked out.
Deer and other wildlife that don't like tangled feet stay away from heavily infested areas. Not only does this not bode well for biodiversity, it also limits the recreational uses of the park. People and horses have trouble trudging through the mess and the view is a monotonous sameness, so hikers are likely to pass huge areas by.
Lately, I've been taking many photographs of wildlife, flowers, insects and fungi. I don't bother at all with the ivy infested areas since most wildlife give it a miss. There may be fungi under the solid mat but they are certainly not evident.
The following 9 photographs show the shocking changes when ivy is allowed to take over. All are taken at Beaver Lake Park which is near Victoria B.C.
- The first three show natural ground cover in a mostly coniferous forest.
- The next three show natural branch cover.
- The final three show an area engulfed with ivy.
THE FIRST THREE PHOTOS - The native ground cover in this park includes salal, Oregon grape and ferns as well as many berry bushes and herbaceous plants. Most of this biomass is eaten by wild critters. The landscape is varied and there are many small clearings. Thousands of people go hiking, horseback riding and mushroom picking here.
Normally, when a tree dies it stands for years and is slowly devoured by fungus, insects and woodpeckers. When a dead tree is covered in ivy, it is often brought down in a shorter time so that the log rots on the ground rather than serving for years as home and food for many birds.
Young trees are often engulfed and if not killed they grow up misshapen and more prone to wind and snow damage.
What we're left with is a virtual monoculture of a plant which has no timber value, is little used by wildlife and which makes the area difficult for man and beast to travel through. Any minor benefit that ivy may provide is grossly outweighed by the fact that it engulfs and smothers almost every other useful species in the forest.
Luckily, I have figured out a way that I can save large swaths of parkland from ivy and other invasives. I've already tested it and am working toward getting many others involved. I'll soon post something about this.
I would actually try to get some government money a research grant or get paid for removing the weeds.
There are two main drawbacks:
1. If you are really good in what you're doing then you run out of weeds (and if you start a business you will find similar things soon)
2. Weeds are often sprayed on so selling them as herbs or food even stockfood depends on what a test result says.
Unfortunately many weeds here were introduced as ornamentals and therefore it is difficult to find a use for it like Scothch broom, buddleia, cotoneaster, English holly, gorse, privet buttercup or montbretia.
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California Grazing is a contractor that does this. Vegetation control, land regeneration, get paid to pasture your goats, and sell some tasty goat meat at the end of it. Hook up with some halal slaughter operation and you're in business!
Here's a podcast that I really enjoyed with the owner of California Grazing.
When I was in New Mexico, I was trying to find out what to do with all the tumbleweed where I was staying, and found out that it is one of the spring greens known as monk's beard in Italy. I tried lightly steaming/sauteeing some new fresh baby plants around 6-8 inches high, and it was great!
But seriously...pickled knotweed, pickled broom pods, and bamboo shoots'a'plenty seems like a good start! Not huge in money making mind you...but it will show those around you that the 'weeds' they seem to hate venomously can be tasty and functional. Put out a little booklet to go with them. I watched some guy (on another fellows property which is where it got interesting!) excavate a field of broom! All those years slowly making better soil...all for naught as this guy ripped out not only the plants but 2' of topsoil under them! Then burned it! He got punched out by the landowner...it was odd watching them from the roof I was working on...