The shrub is fast growing and seeds can remain viable in the soil for as long as five years. It can lie in wait until growing conditions are optimum and then begin its life cycle. It can also spread via sucker propagation. The ability to do this is a key reason for the invasive nature of the plant. As buckthorn leaves fall to the ground, their leaves contain a high concentration of nitrogen, which can change the soil pH and create changes in the soil. This promotes the establishment of more buckthorn trees, but can create a hostile environment for other native plant species.
One of the key reasons why the spread of common buckthorn needs to be stopped is its ability to quickly create, starving other plants around it of needed light. It can prevent the generation of native plant species around it. However, this is not the most important reason for the need to control common buckthorn. The most important reason is that it is a host for crown rust fungus. This fungus is an agricultural pest that can affect the yield and quality of oats harvest (The New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse). According to this source, common buckthorn also serves as a prime host for the Asian soybean aphid, which can not only damage soybean harvests, but can also spread a number of other agricultural diseases.
As one can see, the common buckthorn presents the potential for large-scale economic impact through the introduction of harmful pests to agricultural production. There are several methods and controls being used to help control buckthorn spread. One of them is to locate the individual plants and mow, cut, burn, or to simply dig them up. This is a tedious method and required the help of individual landowners. Individual landowners might not be willing to devote the time and effort needed to control this species. These methods of control might be counterproductive, as they might lead to the spread of seeds, particularly if done in the fall after the tree has gone to seed. Consequently, this is when many turn their attention to tasks such as clearing fence rows and such. Once the old bush is clear, it leaves bare soil, which creates an excellent opportunity for seeds that have dropped in the area over the years to germinate and thrive, thus increasing, rather than decreasing the number of common buckthorn in an area over time. The common buckthorn can sprout from the stump, unless chemicals are applied to prevent this.
The example of the common buckthorn is a typical example of the introduction of an invasive species and its impact on the ecology of an area. The common buckthorn can create tremendous economic harm to crops, but this can be applied to almost any invasive species. As one can see, current methods of control are ineffective and can be counterproductive. With over 500 invasive species in the State of New York, these methods of control will not be effective, unless they are carried out as a mass effort.
The importance of controlling invasive plant species should be evident by the ability of them to create devastating economic impact on the economy of New York State. Losses in agricultural production and interruptions in the local produce supply could quickly become astronomical. The ability to control invasive species will not only benefit the farmer, but will benefit the consumer as well. Helping to control invasive species will allow New York Residents to enjoy lower food prices due to a plentiful supply of locally produced goods. It will also help to ensure that agricultural activities within the state continue to be contributors to a healthy economy.
The New York State Department of Agriculture has introduced several new initiates to help control the spread of invasive species in New York State. This program is taking a new and innovative approach to invasive species by exploring the potential benefits and uses of these plants. If they can find a use for them, they could become an asset. Farmers would be more willing to pay attention to their presence on their farm. This would also allow them to establish effective regulatory programs, as they would fall under different legal categories.
One example of an invasive species that has proven beneficial to agrarians, but that is originally from Europe is the earthworm. Although, this is not a plant, it is beneficial to plants through its effects on the soil. Many do not know that the ice sheet that spread over much of New York 11-14,00 years ago wiped out earthworms in the area. All earthworm in New York State are actually an invasive species, but no one would think of eradicating them (New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets). This new approach to viewing invasive species is innovative and will result in a greater awareness of invasive plant species.
The push to find a use for invasive species, combined with eradication efforts will help to reduce the economic impact that invasive species currently wreck on the State of New York. In the world that we live in, it is next to impossible to control the introduction of invasive species, but there are several things that everyone can do to help control the problem. The first thing is to be aware of invasive species on your property and take steps to effectively eliminate them. The second is to avoid taking actions that could lead to the introduction of new species, such as going on eBay and purchasing potentially invasive species. The third thing that individuals can do is to practice good biosecurity, such as cleaning off your shoes when traveling to the farms of others, or making certain not to pick up hitchhiker seeds on sweaters and then depositing them in your back yard.
Aside from these common sense measures, individuals must realize that they can play an important role in controlling invasive species by making eradication a part of their normal agricultural operations. If everyone learns to recognize and take effective measures to control invasives on their property, it will go a long way in reducing the negative effects of them on the economy. Controlling invasives is a race against time. Our efforts to control them must outpace their ability to reproduce. Everyone must realize that our ability to do this begins in our own backyard.
Aubry, C., Shoal, R., & Erickson, V. Grass Cultivars: Their origins, development, and use on national forests and grasslands in the Pacific Northwest. January 2005. USDA Forest