Tom's Blog

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mowing a field of wild parsnip!

Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is one of the "bad guys" in southern Wisconsin, and many restoration projects spend a lot of time attempting to eradicate it.

We had lots of wild parsnip when we started restoration work at Pleasant Valley Conservancy 20 years ago, but have almost none today. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by major infestations on adjacent lands. One area that is particularly bad is along the Valley Prairie fence line. Fortunately, we have permission to mow this area.

Wild parnsip is a biennial, so after it flowers and sets seed it dies. Mowing is best done when the plants are in full bloom but before there is any seed production. Yesterday was the day!

Our Kubota tractor/mower is ideal for this job, because the parsnip plants are easily cut with the deck mower.

A major problem with wild parsnip is the toxic juice that it produces. The operator has to be fully covered, with no bare skin showing. This is not so nice on a warm, humid day (such as yesterday!). Kathie had to tough this out, as the photo shows.

In order to ensure that all stems were cut, Kathie mowed the field twice, at right angles.

The field was 2.5 acres (as measured by GIS). A whole afternoon's work!


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