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Non-herbicide control of prickly-pear cactus?  RSS feed

 
Paul Ewing
Posts: 127
Location: Boyd, Texas
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We have a small 10 acre field in the corner of our place that is starting to get overrun with prickly-pear cactus. I know a lot of it is because of soil degradation from overgrazing the native grasses there and am working on controlling the grazing there better but I really want to get the prickly-pear gone again. We didn't have it until a few years ago and it is spreading more each year. The standard answer I get is to use Surmount on it or a mix of a couple other herbicides, but I am trying to cut all chemical fertilizers and herbicides out. Only thing I can think of is a shovel party every few months and burning them.
 
Randy Jones
Posts: 4
Location: UNITED STATES ZONE 6A
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Paul Ewing wrote:We have a small 10 acre field in the corner of our place that is starting to get overrun with prickly-pear cactus. I know a lot of it is because of soil degradation from overgrazing the native grasses there and am working on controlling the grazing there better but I really want to get the prickly-pear gone again. We didn't have it until a few years ago and it is spreading more each year. The standard answer I get is to use Surmount on it or a mix of a couple other herbicides, but I am trying to cut all chemical fertilizers and herbicides out. Only thing I can think of is a shovel party every few months and burning them.
I like to use rock salt for vegetation killer/control. I use the rock salt pellets or make a brine ( rock salt in a barrel and add water to solidify ) mixing every few days to help break it down. I use a watering can or sprayer to apply to my desired area. Hope this helps it works for me on a smaller scale. And if the weeds or vegetation is stubborn I use rock salt directly. Good luck on your journey friend keep on growing........
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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http://www.txideafarm.com/cactuscontrol.htm

To buy this tool sounds expensive for 10 acres, but it is a LOT of steel. Read the description of how it works and maybe you can think of ways to reproduce the results with what you have.

Shovel method works if you have a place to compost the remains, but is labor intensive.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Eat it. How is it with scrambled eggs in a breakfast burrito?

The only reason herbivores don't keep it under control is because of the spines. If you can burn them off, you've got plenty of premium fodder there.
 
Bill Ramsey
Posts: 86
Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
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I've been planting them as fast as I can in the back of the property. (As I was writing that FedEx drove up with one that I ordered from Territorial..) I agree with the Eat the Weeds approach. I've had a few pests turn into something beneficial. My opuntia are the "thornless" type but putting some ingenuity to work on those spiny boogers might make them more appreciated or at least make eradicating them less of a chore. I saw a big nopal sized veggie peeler online that looked like a piece of steel tubing that had one side ground off to make the sharp edges. It looked worthwhile to make but I haven't tried it yet.
 
Bill Ramsey
Posts: 86
Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
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R Scott wrote:http://www.txideafarm.com/cactuscontrol.htm

To buy this tool sounds expensive for 10 acres, but it is a LOT of steel. Read the description of how it works and maybe you can think of ways to reproduce the results with what you have.

Shovel method works if you have a place to compost the remains, but is labor intensive.

That is interesting and $100 for the how-to book and plans plus the license to build as many as you want sounds pretty good too. I'll keep that in mind if my nopal experiments get out of hand. Crushing instead of chopping?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Randy Jones wrote: I like to use rock salt for vegetation killer/control
Randy, I've always avoided using salt as an herbicide as 'they' all say it has major, longterm affects on soil biology/plant regeneration etc.
Arid areas are supposed to be really at risk of salination.
I'd be really interested to know if you noted an affect on plant/soil health where you'd used salt?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Bill Ramsey wrote:Crushing instead of chopping?


I think it has the same effect as a crimper roller does on cover crops. Crush the plant but don't actually separate them so each can grow a new one.

Every piece has the potential to become a new plant, so chopping can make your problem worse. Crushing squeezes juice out and makes the vein structure fail so it can't move the juice to where it is needed to grow roots. Just like Dr's can reattach a finger that was cut off, but no hope for a crushed one. Iink it has the same effect as a crimper roller does on cover crops. Crush the plant but don't actually separate them so each can grow a new one.

I wonder if you can experiment with a wooden rock boat (heavy sled) or stomping them with concrete blocks, or using a lawn roller--something of an experiment before you plop down big money.
 
Josh Katlof
Posts: 11
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Salt completely kills what little fertility you have in your soil. The main reason why industrial fertilizers are so harmful is that over time, their good stuff gets washed away, leaving only heavy metals and salts, making your soil infertile. Same can be said about using city water without filtering out the Chlorine (slower than fertilizer, but same effect). Using city water to "water the garden, trees, etc..." accumulates salt over time. Basically, using salt on soil is generally a no-no as it tends to kill their soil forever?

Of all the plants to "control", we are talking about an edible plant here. Best way to "control" a plant, is to find a use for it. Food is a good use. Alternatives include making liquor or many other products that use prickly pear cactus as a base. Myself, I have an issue trying to control "poison ivy". Since I don't have any goats handy - I have a "resource" which I cannot utilize, resulting in it being a nuisance.

Good luck!

Josh
 
Jay C. White Cloud
Posts: 2413
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Hi Paul, et al,

Boy its been a long time sense I heard the name Boyd, Texas...

I think your "shovel party" is probably your best bet, mixed with a small tractor and bucket with chainsaws...then compost them. This is your fastest "permie" solution short of eating and other organic uses. This can be a real challenge to deal with, yet manageable, if you can combine bringing back the native grass and not allowing grazing there for a few years. After that then only rotational lite grazing.

There is another "permaculture" solution, yet more involved, and not sure you would be allowed to do it without assistance (which is silly sense it works, and they are native.) That would be Javelina (Pecari tajacu) which love...."They feed primarily on cacti (particularly prickly pear)...." Now I can't say where, or who, but can share that they "farm well" in my opinion, and the meat is very tasty, with great leather for gloves and other leather craft. I imagine that within the year of being on a 10 acre paddock a breeding family of these little guys would clean the place up nicely and in a more environmentally sound fashion. The places I have seen this done was in AZ but "under cover" as this is a protected species (even though there is a hunting season.) Wild orphan young were raised over a few years and then placed in the paddock. They now have over 30 head on about a 10 acre paddock the last time I was there in the late 1990's.

This could be a solution and a side business as well if you are "game" for it. I know Boyd, as I had to deliver some "retired" big cats from Florida there in the 80's to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. They, or one of the other "game parks," may tell you how to go about getting the licences to do this. "Peccies" are native to West Texas and there is a hunting season there as well...so good old governmental "Fish and Wildlife," would have something to say I am sure. I grew up hunting, eating and tanning there hids and have raise a number of "pecclets," as my Grandmother would call them. Great animals if you get to know them and not the "horrid creatures" so many claim them to be.

Good luck,

j
 
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