What is in this article?:
- Biofuel crops can bring invasive weed risk
- Kudzu: Good idea gone wrong
- Many biofuels crops also are known as invasive weeds in some of the regions where they are planted. That means growers must exercise caution in order to protect our natural ecosystems.
Kudzu: Good idea gone wrong
- Cover trucks and trailers.
- Avoid routes that cross riparian zones and other highly sensitive habitats.
- Inspect rights-of-way along transport routes to ensure no plants have escaped.
Steve Wall, director of policy and environmental issues at the state-funded Biofuels Center of North Carolina, says a nursery raising biofuel grasses in Duplin County, N.C., has become the first to implement the new BMPs, and it is hoped others in the industry will do the same.
"These are simple, voluntary measures that can make a big impact," Wall says. "They help us reduce concerns about the potential impact of biofuel crops on native species as we get a new industry on its feet."
Lee Van Wychen, Ph.D., science policy director of the Weed Science Society of America, agrees. "Biofuel crops are an important, renewable energy source critical to the security of our nation," Van Wychen says. "Until researchers and policy makers have the data they need to establish science-based guidelines, we hope growers will proceed with care. We encourage them to select crops that are unlikely to threaten natural habitats and to take prudent steps to ensure plants remain only in the growing field."
Kudzu: A Cautionary Tale of a Good Idea Gone Wrong
Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is a rapidly growing, climbing vine that is native to Japan and China. Its history in the U.S. illustrates the potential risk represented by an invasive species – even those cultivated with the best of intentions.
In the 1930s and 1940s, soil erosion was a significant problem in the South. Federal officials believed kudzu could help prevent further erosion losses and revitalize valuable farmland when used as a cover crop. They decided to provide incentives to farmers who agreed to plant kudzu seedlings.
But this aggressive invader soon grew beyond the confines of farms and reshaped vast areas of the southern landscape – smothering trees and plants under a blanket of green leaves and destroying wildlife habitats. Untold millions have been spent over a series of decades trying to eradicate the plant.