Using Rice Hulls as a Carrier for Prairie Seeding

By: Julianne Mason, Restoration Program Coordinator, Forest Preserve District of Will County

We have been using rice hulls as a carrier for our native seedings and loving the results!  I first got the idea to try rice hulls from this USDA technical note [link to https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/idpmctn11458.pdf]   I’ve tried various carriers over the years, primarily cereal grains like annual oats and rye, but here’s why rice hulls seem to work well:

  • Rice hulls are light and fly out of the broadcast spreader about as far as native seed. More aerodynamic carriers like annual oats fly farther and give the operator a false sense of how wide the native prairie seed is being spread;
  • Rice hulls seem to keep very small seeds (like rushes, wool grass, etc.) from falling out of the seed mixture all at once, and make them more evenly distributed across the field. This is especially beneficial for wetland seed mixes, which tend to have a lot of small seeds;
  • Since they are light, rice hulls are a much nicer carrier for hand broadcasting. Also, less weight in the broadcast spreader makes it less likely for pins to shear;
  • For our minimally cleaned prairie seed, rice hulls help the fluffy, stick-filled mass of seed to flow better through the seeder, and they reduce bridging and clumping; and
  • Rice hulls are cheaper than cereal grains, when you just need a carrier and not a cover crop.

Here in the Midwest, unbroken rice hulls are available in compressed 50 pound bales directly from Riceland or from various on-line distributors like A.M. Leonard.  We’ve been using 10 pounds of rice hulls per acre as a carrier for initial seedings, and 5 pounds of rice hulls per acre for lighter overseedings.  Also fabulous:  mixing the seed and rice hulls in a concrete mixer, which works really well!

Caption:  Sorting bags of seed for mixing.

Caption:  We used to mix seed by hand, mixing it with pitch forks and shovels on a concrete floor.  A very dusty job!

Caption:  The rice hulls are compressed and expand when the bale is opened.  I highly recommend putting the rice hull bale in a 55-gallon plastic drum before slashing the sides of the bale open with a knife.

Caption:  Photo of our restoration ecologist, Nick Budde, loading native seed and rice hulls in the concrete mixer.

Caption:  We keep a poly bag strapped over the mouth of the concrete mixer while the seed is mixing.  It keeps seed and dust from flying out.

Caption:  Once mixed, the seed and rice hulls are dumped out into the poly bag.

Caption:  View of rice hulls mixed with very clean seed bought from a commercial nursery.

Caption:  View of rice hulls mixed with our minimally processed native seed.

Caption:  View of seed and rice hulls broadcast onto snow cover.

 

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Native Bees and Honey Bees – Are They Compatible? by Bill Glass

Bill Glass, photo above, is the author of this post:

When I worked as the ecologist at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, every couple of years we’d get a request from a beekeeper to put out honey bee hives at Midewin. The beekeeper was looking for a safe, productive place for the hives. A place where there was a good source of nectar and pollen and free of pesticides. A natural area seems the ideal place, at least to the beekeeper. We always struggled with these requests. We just didn’t have enough information to make an enlightened decision. Fortunately the Prairie Plan we were working under stated that no non-native animals should be introduced and we followed this plan to keep honey bees out. We just felt we should be promoting native bees and the honey bees could be competition.

Recently, the Xerces Society sponsored a workshop on Best Management Practices for Pollinators at the 2019 Natural Areas Conference in Bloomington, Indiana. Most of the talks centered on bees because they are such good pollinators and they actively move pollen around the landscape. Pollination by most other pollinators is accidental although many flowers have adaptations to improve the chances of pollination.  The presentations covered the relationships between native bees and honey bees. Had I heard these talks previously I could have used this research to support our decision for not allowing honey bees in restored prairies. Here are some facts I learned. Four potential risks were presented.

  1. Competition with native bees. Studies have shown that honey bees do complete with native bees and can displace native bees. A study by Goulson (2003) showed that a single honey bee hive consumes 20-130 lbs./year of pollen, pollen that is no longer available to native bees. Some studies have shown neutral effects. Unfortunately most of the studies don’t show a causal relationship for the decline of native bees in competition with honey bees. Even without a mechanism for the decline, it appears there is competition between native bees and honey bees.
  2. Disease transmission to native bees. As with competition, transmission of disease is something for natural areas managers to worry about. Although a few studies have shown a clear mechanism or causal relationship for disease transmission, most studies haven’t.
  3. Risks to native plant communities. Studies have suggested that some plants benefit from honey bees doing most of the pollination while other plants may be harmed. Additionally honey bees may preferentially pollinate non-native invasive plant species helping these pests spread into natural areas.
  4. Risk to other wildlife. This pertains to black bears getting habituated to raiding honey bee hives and increasing bear-human interactions. This is not something I had to worry about.

So to answer the question are native bees and honey bees compatible – in my mind they probably aren’t compatible in natural areas. With that said there is nothing wrong with honey bees for crop production and there may be local reasons to allow hives into natural areas. Site managers just need to make informed decisions whether honey bee hives in a natural areas fits their management goals. For more information the Xerces Society has a publication An Overview of the Potential Impacts of Honey Bees to Native Bees, Plant Communities, and Ecosystems in Wild Landscapes: Recommendations for Land Managers.

The Xerces Society publishes management recommendations to protect pollinators for land managers and other pollinator-related resources. Most of these publications are in PDF formate and can be downloaded at the Xerces Society website, under resources.

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New Date!! GRN workshop August 20-21, 2019

Hold the date!  We discovered that there are large events in Madison on our original date.  Hotels were full or rates raised a lot.  So we moved back a week to August 20-21.  Please mark your calendars

University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

Grassland Restoration Network workshop

August 20-21, 2019

Widely recognized as the site of historic research in ecological restoration, the Arboretum includes the oldest and most varied collection of restored ecological communities in the world. Come for two days of learning and networking at the home of historic Curtis and Greene prairies, with field trips to area grassland restorations.

More information will follow on this blog site.  Follow us to get these updates and other posts from your GRN colleagues.  For now, mark your calendars.

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chainsaw safety video

Nice short video by Tim Ard on felling. Only 8 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj1d85CLDOQ   Video is clear and short. I liked how the plunge cut was used on a small tree. The plunge cut allows you to get the back-cut done, your hinge nicely created, then you can insert a wedge, and finally you just cut the bit of wood at the back of the tree and it falls, perhaps with a few wacks at the wedge you installed. – Bill Kleiman

 

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Julianne Mason on Basal Bark Applications Using an Oil-Water Emulsion

I am re-sending this post from Julianne Mason as it may have not gone through to some folks the first time.   – BK

Julianne Mason

Fall is a lovely time here in northeastern Illinois.  The leaves are turning, mornings are crisp, and invasive shrubs stick out like sore, green thumbs against the senescing native vegetation.  Previously, Bill Kleiman has posted articles extolling the virtues of using basal bark application of herbicide as an efficient and effective method to kill bush honeysuckles [link to previous posts].  He used 15% Garlon 4 in bark oil.  I have also found that treatment to be effective, but have noticed that the oil kills all plants in the overspray zone.  This usually isn’t too egregious as long as you keep the sprayer pressure low to minimize overspray.  The space fills back in with the surrounding vegetation within a year or so.  However, there have been a couple of cases when it rained within a day after the basal bark application or it was done over snow cover and the oil washed down slope, leaving a zone of death heading down the hillside.  Guess it takes oil a while to “dry”.

Caption:  Basal bark treatments are an effective way to kill invasive shrubs, but all plants (grasses and forbs) are killed in the overspray zone.

In the fall of 2017, my coworker, Nick Budde, and I treated various invasive shrubs with different concentrations of herbicide in oil-water emulsions, to see what lower concentrations might be effective at killing the shrubs while reducing the cost of the treatment.  We were also curious if reducing the amount of oil might reduce the collateral damage caused by the oil overspray.  In addition, we have been wondering if it’s really important to get a full 360 degree application, since it is a lot faster to not walk all the way around each shrub.

For each of the herbicide combinations, we treated half of the shrubs with a 360 degree application, walking around the entire plant and basal treating the whole stem circumference.  For the other half of the shrubs, we treated them by standing in one spot, and reaching our spray wands around to spray all sides as well as possible without moving our feet.  Being a former contractor, I refer to this method as “contractor-style”, but you can also think of it as an efficient application style.  Regardless of application style, we sprayed the base to a height of 3-4 inches for smaller shrubs (<6’ tall or so).  For larger, tree-like shrubs, we were more diligent about spraying the base to a height of 8-12”, like it says to do on the herbicide label.  Most of the shrubs that we treated were non-native honeysuckles and multiflora rose, although there was a smattering of other invasives, including common buckthorn, winged euonymus, autumn olive, and Japanese barberry.  We marked each treated shrub with a ribbon that was color-coded to the treatment type and application style.

Caption:  Area where the invasive shrubs were basal bark treated in the fall of 2017, viewed one year later.  Each treated shrub was marked with a ribbon that was color-coded to the treatment type.

Here were the treatment types.  We used Relegate herbicide, which has the same active ingredient as Garlon 4 (ester formulation of triclopyr).  The label recommends adding an emulsifier for oil-water emulsions, but we didn’t have an emulsifier so we didn’t add one.  We just shook the herbicide mix back and forth in the sprayer tank for 30 seconds.  We didn’t agitate it in particular after that, just walked around and sprayed.  It does separate if it sits in a jug, but re-suspends into an emulsion again when agitated.  There were roughly 60-100 shrubs in each treatment.

20% Relegate + 80% bark oil

20% Relegate + 20% bark oil + 60% water + dye

10% Relegate + 20% bark oil + 70% water + dye

5% Relegate + 20% bark oil + 75% water + dye

When we checked on our plots this past spring (6 MAT), we saw that the treatments had worked for the multiflora roses.  Nearly all of the roses were dead regardless of treatment type or application style.  This included some monster roses (8’ tall and 10’ diameter).  This is great news for anyone who needs to treat multiflora rose, since trying to walk through a rose patch stinks.  Handling rose canes to use a cut stump method stinks.   Foliar treating those rambling canes results in a lot of overspray.  Also, I’ve noticed that roses tend to re-sprout after foliar treatments, so foliar sprays often are not effective.  It is nice to be able to just stick your wand strategically into a thorny mess and spray the canes at the base.  The ones that were not dead were the canes that were missed.  When we checked the plots this fall (1 YAT), all of the treated multiflora roses had completely died for all treatment types and application styles.

Caption:  All of the multiflora roses that were basal bark treated died, even the ones that were treated with only 5% Relegate emulsion and treated while standing in one place without walking around the entire plant.

In contrast to the roses, most of the honeysuckles and other invasive shrubs leafed out in the spring after treatment, although they looked somewhat stressed.  However, when we checked the plots this fall (1 YAT), nearly all of the honeysuckles and others had died in all of the treatments that had at least 10% Relegate, regardless of application style.  The only one that did not die was a 10’ tall honeysuckle that was treated “contractor-style” with the 10% Relegate emulsion.  Less than half of the honeysuckles treated with the 5% Relegate emulsion were still alive.

Caption:  About half of the honeysuckles that had been basal bark treated with herbicide in the fall of 2017 leafed out the following spring.  With a proper application style, all of the ones treated with at least 10% Relegate emulsion eventually died, but it took nearly a full year for some of them.

We repeated the treatment types and application styles in the spring of 2018, to see if treatment timing matters.  When we checked on our plots this fall (6 MAT), nearly all of the roses were dead regardless of treatment type or application style.  Nearly all of the honeysuckles and other shrubs were dead that were treated with a 360 degree application with at least 10% Relegate.  Less than half of the ones that were treated contractor-style with an emulsion with at least 10% Relegate were still alive.   More honeysuckles that were treated with only 5% Relegate were still alive than those treated with a higher concentration of herbicide.  It will be interesting to see how many of those still alive succumb to death in time – we’ll check them in the spring for a final verdict.

Caption:  Some honeysuckles that were basal bark treated in the spring of 2018 are still alive the following fall.  Have they shaken off the herbicide application, or are they on a very slow road to death?  Only time will tell.

As a general observation, there were still dead zones from the overspray of the oil-water emulsions for both the fall and spring treatments, although it seemed to be a little more diffuse than with the straight oil basal bark treatments.  There were scattered sprigs of herbaceous plants that were not killed by the overspray in the emulsion treatments.  I’m interested to reduce the amount of oil in the emulsions even further to 15% or 10% and see if those treatments are still effective.

What I’ve learned:

  1. Using a contractor-style basal bark treatment to kill multiflora rose is wonderful!
  2. Oil-water emulsions work for basal bark treatments, and they are cheaper and put less chemical in the environment than straight bark oil.
  3. Walking all the way around the shrub to get a 360 degree application is important for bigger shrubs (>10’ tall), but does not appear necessary for smaller ones.
  4. It sometimes took a full year for the shrubs to die, so be patient. With a proper application style, all of the ones basal bark treated with at least 10% Relegate succumbed to death.

Note: special thanks to Phil Solatka with Archer Pines Landscaping for giving me the idea to try oil-water emulsions for basal bark treatments.

Julianne Mason is the Restoration Program Coordinator with the Forest Preserve District of Will County

Caption:  Another dead multiflora rose from the basal bark treatment.  

 

 

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Julianne Mason on “Basal Bark Applications Using an Oil-Water Emulsion”

Editors note:  At our recent GRN Workshop in Kane County I announced I was looking for guests to write posts for this blog.  Juli Mason was in the audience and below she gives us a helpful  report.  If you have an topic  you want to share contact me and I or someone with the GRN will work with you to post it here.    

Also, I am reposting this one because it seemed to not email out the first time.

Juli - head shot

Photo above and text by Juli Mason:

Fall is a lovely time here in northeastern Illinois.  The leaves are turning, mornings are crisp, and invasive shrubs stick out like sore, green thumbs against the senescing native vegetation.  Previously, Bill Kleiman has posted articles extolling the virtues of using basal bark application of herbicide as an efficient and effective method to kill bush honeysuckles. He used 17% Garlon 4 in bark oil.

I have also found that treatment to be effective, but have noticed that the oil kills all plants in the overspray zone.  This usually isn’t too egregious as long as you keep the sprayer pressure low to minimize overspray.  The space fills back in with the surrounding vegetation within a year or so.  However, there have been a couple of cases when it rained within a day after the basal bark application or it was done over snow cover and the oil washed down slope, leaving a zone of death heading down the hillside.  Guess it takes oil a while to “dry”.

Caption:  Basal bark treatments are an effective way to kill invasive shrubs, but all plants (grasses and forbs) are killed in the overspray zone.

In the fall of 2017, my coworker, Nick Budde, and I treated various invasive shrubs with different concentrations of herbicide in oil-water emulsions, to see what lower concentrations might be effective at killing the shrubs while reducing the cost of the treatment.  We were also curious if reducing the amount of oil might reduce the collateral damage caused by the oil overspray.  In addition, we have been wondering if it’s really important to get a full 360 degree application, since it is a lot faster to not walk all the way around each shrub.

For each of the herbicide combinations, we treated half of the shrubs with a 360 degree application, walking around the entire plant and basal treating the whole stem circumference.  For the other half of the shrubs, we treated them by standing in one spot, and reaching our spray wands around to spray all sides as well as possible without moving our feet.  Being a former contractor, I refer to this method as “contractor-style”, but you can also think of it as an efficient application style.  Regardless of application style, we sprayed the base to a height of 3-4 inches for smaller shrubs (<6’ tall or so).  For larger, tree-like shrubs, we were more diligent about spraying the base to a height of 8-12”, like it says to do on the herbicide label.  Most of the shrubs that we treated were non-native honeysuckles and multiflora rose, although there was a smattering of other invasives, including common buckthorn, winged euonymus, autumn olive, and Japanese barberry.  We marked each treated shrub with a ribbon that was color-coded to the treatment type and application style.

Caption:  Area where the invasive shrubs were basal bark treated in the fall of 2017, viewed one year later.  Each treated shrub was marked with a ribbon that was color-coded to the treatment type.

Here were the treatment types.  We used Relegate herbicide, which has the same active ingredient as Garlon 4 (ester formulation of triclopyr).  The label recommends adding an emulsifier for oil-water emulsions, but we didn’t have an emulsifier so we didn’t add one.  We just shook the herbicide mix back and forth in the sprayer tank for 30 seconds.  We didn’t agitate it in particular after that, just walked around and sprayed.  It does separate if it sits in a jug, but re-suspends into an emulsion again when agitated.  There were roughly 60-100 shrubs in each treatment.

20% Relegate + 80% bark oil

20% Relegate + 20% bark oil + 60% water + dye

10% Relegate + 20% bark oil + 70% water + dye

5% Relegate + 20% bark oil + 75% water + dye

When we checked on our plots this past spring (6 MAT), we saw that the treatments had worked for the multiflora roses.  Nearly all of the roses were dead regardless of treatment type or application style.  This included some monster roses (8’ tall and 10’ diameter).  This is great news for anyone who needs to treat multiflora rose, since trying to walk through a rose patch stinks.  Handling rose canes to use a cut stump method stinks.   Foliar treating those rambling canes results in a lot of overspray.  Also, I’ve noticed that roses tend to re-sprout after foliar treatments, so foliar sprays often are not effective.  It is nice to be able to just stick your wand strategically into a thorny mess and spray the canes at the base.  The ones that were not dead were the canes that were missed.  When we checked the plots this fall (1 YAT), all of the treated multiflora roses had completely died for all treatment types and application styles.

Caption:  All of the multiflora roses that were basal bark treated died, even the ones that were treated with only 5% Relegate emulsion and treated while standing in one place without walking around the entire plant.

In contrast to the roses, most of the honeysuckles and other invasive shrubs leafed out in the spring after treatment, although they looked somewhat stressed.  However, when we checked the plots this fall (1 YAT), nearly all of the honeysuckles and others had died in all of the treatments that had at least 10% Relegate, regardless of application style.  The only one that did not die was a 10’ tall honeysuckle that was treated “contractor-style” with the 10% Relegate emulsion.  Less than half of the honeysuckles treated with the 5% Relegate emulsion were still alive.

Caption:  About half of the honeysuckles that had been basal bark treated with herbicide in the fall of 2017 leafed out the following spring.  With a proper application style, all of the ones treated with at least 10% Relegate emulsion eventually died, but it took nearly a full year for some of them.

We repeated the treatment types and application styles in the spring of 2018, to see if treatment timing matters.  When we checked on our plots this fall (6 MAT), nearly all of the roses were dead regardless of treatment type or application style.  Nearly all of the honeysuckles and other shrubs were dead that were treated with a 360 degree application with at least 10% Relegate.  Less than half of the ones that were treated contractor-style with an emulsion with at least 10% Relegate were still alive.   More honeysuckles that were treated with only 5% Relegate were still alive than those treated with a higher concentration of herbicide.  It will be interesting to see how many of those still alive succumb to death in time – we’ll check them in the spring for a final verdict.

Caption:  Some honeysuckles that were basal bark treated in the spring of 2018 are still alive the following fall.  Have they shaken off the herbicide application, or are they on a very slow road to death?  Only time will tell.

As a general observation, there were still dead zones from the overspray of the oil-water emulsions for both the fall and spring treatments, although it seemed to be a little more diffuse than with the straight oil basal bark treatments.  There were scattered sprigs of herbaceous plants that were not killed by the overspray in the emulsion treatments.  I’m interested to reduce the amount of oil in the emulsions even further to 15% or 10% and see if those treatments are still effective.

What I’ve learned:

  1. Using a contractor-style basal bark treatment to kill multiflora rose is wonderful!
  2. Oil-water emulsions work for basal bark treatments, and they are cheaper and put less chemical in the environment than straight bark oil.
  3. Walking all the way around the shrub to get a 360 degree application is important for bigger shrubs (>10’ tall), but does not appear necessary for smaller ones.
  4. It sometimes took a full year for the shrubs to die, so be patient. With a proper application style, all of the ones basal bark treated with at least 10% Relegate succumbed to death.

Note: special thanks to Phil Solatka with Archer Pines Landscaping for giving me the idea to try oil-water emulsions for basal bark treatments.

Julianne Mason is the Restoration Program Coordinator with the Forest Preserve District of Will County

Caption:  Another dead invasive multiflora rose from the basal bark treatment.  

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GRN 2018 Workshop a success

We had dozens on a waiting list for this sold out workshop.  Rain was threatened but we stayed dry.  We heard several solid talks, and we had two days of concurrent field trips, ample food and colleagues to learn from.

A big thanks to the hosts, Ryan Campbell of Fermilab and his crew.  And Ben Habethur and Caitlin Rodeghero of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County and their crew. We are grateful for their efforts!

Pat Chess leads a tour of prairie plantings

Ben Haberthur with Jason Johnson explain their new patch burn grazing site

Ryan Campbell welcoming the crowd

Seed drying Kane Cty FP

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