Ventenata (Ventenata dubia) control treatments on the Crow Reservation

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Date

2023

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture

Abstract

Ventenata (Ventenata dubia) is a non-native winter annual grass that has been of increasing concern in southeastern Montana. Research has shown that ventenata can increase rapidly, lower forage production, and reduce biodiversity. This project is located in southeastern Montana, in Bighorn County on the Crow Reservation. Two studies were conducted to understand control options and monitoring of those treatments post-treatment. A field study tested two herbicides and a soil amendment for the management of ventenata. At four sites, indaziflam and imazapic at two water carrier rates and two rates of an organic soil nutrient amendment were tested using a split-plot randomized block design. The water carrier rates were meant to mimic aerial and ground applications. Herbicides were applied using a hand-held boom sprayer pressurized by CO 2. Soil amendment was hand-broadcasted. In late June 2022 (first growing season post-treatment), sampling consisted of randomly placing 3, 20 cm x 50 cm frames in each split-plot and estimating cover by species along with litter and bare ground. Imazapic and indaziflam provided the highest reduction of ventenata, regardless of water carrier rate. Across the four sites, imazapic reduced ventenata cover to <1% while indaziflam reduced cover to 4%, compared to the control which was 38%. The soil amendment reduced ventenata to 25% at two sites, suggesting it may not be as promising of a control method as the herbicides. Application rates for all treatments did not differ, suggesting that aerial application of the herbicides may provide just as good of control as ground application. This is encouraging for the prospect of managing ventenata aerially. At one of the sites, a remote sensing time series study using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a multispectral sensor was used to understand differences in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) between herbicide sprayed and non-sprayed plots. Findings indicate that there is a shift in NDVI in late June where sprayed plots peak in NDVI and remain green longer into the season than non-sprayed plots. This study provides control options that land managers in southeastern Montana can consider using for ventenata management.

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