Those of us who live in the Southeastern USA know about kudzu, the extremely invasive species from China/Japan that flourishes here. Most of the abandoned houses and such in my area are covered with kudzu for most of the year.
The plant does have several uses; it is a nitrogen-fixing legume that can be consumed by humans, useful for erosion control, and makes high quality forage for livestock.
I'm wondering how Geoff, Paul, Sepp, and anyone else wise in the ways of the (Permaculture) Force would try to incorporate an invasive species such as kudzu without having to constantly keep it at bay.
Thanks for reading!
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
One aspect of my PDC I loved was discussions of how pioneer species go into empty, damaged areas and often create thorny, hard-to-penetrate biomass that stops erosion and often contributes nitrogen to the soil, depending on the species.
In the tropics, you often have these thorny patches. It's almost like nature is hanging up, "construction ahead, go away" signs.
However, in many cases these species are part of a succession. Eventually, when the soil is improved, you have a bush or tree that shoots up through the pioneer species and eventually shades them out.
But Kudzu is like nothing I've seen before in this category. Yes, it's great for stopping erosion and fixing nitrogen, but it can grow even in nitrogen-rich soil (as far as I know) and can overcome very productive forest ecosystems, killing them.
If you chop and drop kudzu, will the cut portion regrow, or only what's attached to the root?
Is there any way to plant a thick enough density of plants and improve the soil enough so that kudzu can't take root?
My understanding is that the Kudzu roots grow very large, so the best way to get rid of them is to put some pigs in the area and let them do their thing. The pigs will dig out the roots. If you want to keep it as part of the ecosystem graze it with cows or if it's too twiggy goats will browse it down to manageable level. I think that management is solution to the problem, if you let it run some things will get overrun.
My experience with invasive wisteria in this area leads me to just stay away from both it and kudzu. Unless you are going to keep livestock on hand to eat these invasives, they are just to much work to keep contained. The wisteria I am dealing with is sending roots snaking across the ground a hundred feet from where it was originally planted. It will be years of constant cutting to remove and contain it. Kudzu would be even worse. Without the animals to control these plants, they are not a good idea to plant in my climate zone.
Cut for for high quality nitrogen rich mulch and direct that to plants, trees and compost that you want, graze it and convert it into protein and animal tractor it where you want to remove it.
We can also eat it in various ways.
I have been seeking out a video I distinctly recall that you did about Kudzu on a roadside and how it is a niche plant that can be worked with. Does that video exist still? Or am I not remembering properly?