Midwest Briefs: Goats combat buckthorn infestation

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Park uses goats to combat buckthorn infestation

A herd of 20 goats is been grazing on invasive plants at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park for a week or two, kicking off Washington County's efforts to use a nonchemical approach to a buckthorn infestation.

Jake Langeslag, who owns Faribault-based goat Dispatch, and herd manager Jarett Spitzack released the goats on the north end of the park Monday, according to the Pioneer Press.

Langeslag, who started his company over four years ago, said he was initially surprised how well they ate the plants. He has increased his goat count from six to 120, tackling up to 50 projects a year.

A goat grazes after being released into a 3-acre enclosure in Cottage Grove, MN.. A herd of 20 goats are grazing on invasive plants at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park for a week or two, kicking off the county’s efforts to use a non-chemical approach to a buckthorn infestation.

The goats work as a group to lower branches and eat the plant's leaves, reducing the strength of the plant and later killing it. When the goats are full, they congregate in the sun to digest and rehydrate before continuing their work. Goats eat 3 percent to 5 percent of their body weight daily.

The practice isn't new to the region. Goats were used to eat buckthorn at Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount in 2013. The next year, they chomped on goldenrod at Pilot Knob hill, a historic site in Mendota Heights.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, buckthorn is a shrub that can reach 25 feet, and sprouts its leaves earlier than native plants in the spring, making it difficult for native plants to receive enough light and water.


Lodi farmer boosts income through corn maze for tourists

A farmer in Lodi said corn mazes in the U.S. have become popular tourist sites and help small farms boost their income to stay afloat.

Angie Treinen, co-owner of Treinen Farm in Lodi, has been designing corn mazes for more than a decade and created a 15-acre maze on her farm, according to the Wisconsin Public Radio. She spends about 40 hours a year designing the corn maze, making sure it's recognizable in photos. This year's design includes "rainbows, kittens and killer baby unicorns."

Treinen said the corn mazes allow farmers who are typically tied to the commodities market to be a little more in control of their business.

She said not all farmers are eager to embrace agritourism because it requires being a people person and thinking about the niche market.


Agri-Women scholars noted

The Illinois Agri-Women announced the winners of its 2016 scholarships. The winner for a senior majoring in agriculture education is Samantha Martin. Martin will graduate from Western Illinois Universit and will pursue a career in agriculture education.

The organization, in conjunction with the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference, awarded three Agent of Change scholarships this year. The winners are: Krista Temple, a student at the University of Illinois majoring in agricultural communications and minoring in food and environmental systems; Jordan Johns, a student at the University of Illinois majoring in agricultural science education; and Mary Francque, a graduate of Sterling High School and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where she studied agribusiness. She is currently studying agriculture law at Drake University School of Law.


More livestock killed in south central North Dakota 

More farm animals have been killed in south central North Dakota's Morton and Sioux counties. The North Dakota Stockmen's Association says four bison were butchered in a pasture, and two cows in another pasture were killed and burned.

Over the past five weeks, more than a dozen animals in the region have been killed or injured, and nearly three dozen others have been reported missing.

The incidents are near the site where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline, but the Stockmen's says there is no evidence that there is any connection.

The rancher group is offering a reward of up to $14,000 for information that helps crack the cases.