MONUMENT - The Monument Community Center was transformed into a war room Feb. 15, as local landowners armed themselves with information to combat weeds.
About 50 people turned out to listen to speakers and pick up tips at the "War on Weeds" seminar on invasive plants. The event was sponsored by the Monument Soil and Water Conservation District and the North Fork John Day Watershed Council.
Bobb Breck, SWCD chair, was pleased with the turnout - and especially the number of private landowners. He said the weed gathering has drawn a lot of agency people in the past, but "this year there are more landowners."
"Weeds are a hot topic," he said.
Identifying invasive plants and figuring out what to do with them can be a challenge, he and other organizers said.
The conference sought to help with an array of presentations: weed identification and biological controls, by Dave Langland of the Oregon Department of Agriculture; chemical controls, by Dan Comingore of Wilbur-Ellis; seedling establishment after weed removal, by Jeremy James of the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center; and management and economic decisions, by Brenda Smith, also of the ag research center.
Those attending the seminar were able to take home written material on various weeds found in the region that outcompete beneficial range grasses and forage.
The conferees also watched "We'd Eat it," a video on Kathy Voss' program that teaches cows to eat invasive plants.
Bryan Vogt of the Watershed Council staff said the overall aim of the seminar is to help landowners "know what you have - what kind of weed is it? - and the multiple ways to address that problem."
"It's a matter of having more tools in the toolbox," Vogt said.
Relying on spraying alone gets expensive, he noted, and it may not solve the whole problem. Landowners may want to try a mix of methods, including biological, mechanical and environmental, to control weeds.
When using chemical treatments, the landowners were urged to use the right substance for the weed, to follow the label, and to apply at the right time.
Comingore, the Wilbur-Ellis representative, offered information on chemical treatments, but he particularly urged the landowners to pay attention to the quality of water they use for spraying.
"Water quality is crucial - It's very important to test your water," he said.
He said water that is too hard or has a poor pH may mute the effectiveness and solubility of the chemical, and he offered information on products that can be added to reverse the negative effects of bad water.
He said he would send a supply of free water test kits to the Monument SWCD office.
Landowners also learned about some new services being offered by Monument SWCD.
Steve Ussery, district coordinator, said the district has begun a mapping service that will sell custom maps of properties showing features such as boundaries, ponds, fencelines and more.
The district also is rolling out a pesticide application service in May and is selling commonly used pesticides, herbicides and additives from the Monument office, he said.
Ussery said a reseeding service, to help landowners restore desirable species to weedy areas, will start up soon.
For information on those programs, contact the district at 541-934-2141.
The seminar featured a tri-tip lunch prepared and served by the Monument School Future Farmers of America (FFA) group.