The infestation of the mesquite, cedar/juniper trees and bushes, can seriously effect land productivity especially in Texas and Oklahoma.
Two companies have found a way to effectively solve this problem.
Kirby-Smith and Werk-Brau have addressed the concerns of land owners and offered not only their assistance in research, but also provided some much needed help. The companies worked together to come up with the combination of a Komatsu excavator and the Werk-Brau grubber/extractor in the Kirby-Smith rental fleet to develop a solution for removing the mesquite/cedar infestation in an efficient manner. In some confined areas, grinding and mulching is a solution, dozers and root plows are also used but that process typically requires complete restoration with reseeding. When it comes to hundreds of acres with select extraction of the mesquite and cedars the Komatsu/Werk-Brau solution is more efficient with less soil damage.
Kevin Burrell, territory manager for Kirby-Smith, was approached by Clint Ward of the John E. Fish Ranch, in northwest Texas near Paduca. Ward had 180 acres on the ranch infested with mesquite and salt cedars, basically rendering the land useless. Burrell explained the benefits of the Komatsu PC200 LC-8 excavator combined with the Werk-Brau EZ-V grubber/extractor as an effective combination to not only remove the mesquite and cedar trees, but also the root ball. A single mesquite root left in the ground has the capabilities of propagating and starting a whole new plant.
“Since the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) had specified a 9 to 18 inch below surface extraction to make sure the root ball was eliminated, I pointed out that the EZ-V grubber/extractor with its V-bottom design was much more efficient than a straight edge grubber,” said Burrell. “Werk-Brau uses AR400 steel for the cutting edges and with the triple pass welds on the high stress areas, the EZ-V was the perfect attachment for PC 200 LC-8.”
The Komatsu/Werk-Brau package was rented for a little over six weeks and, according to Ward, was able to clear five acres per day with approximately 135 trees per acre.
“The acreage was classified by the NRCS as 93 percent coverage, yet the PC 200 LC-8 and the EZ-V went through it with no problems,” said Ward. “The State of Texas requires no permits for this type of vegetation clearing, but since the EZ-V grubber was to penetrate the soil 9 to 18 inches, we did check with the local utility companies to make sure there were no obstructions before we started grubbing.
“I was most pleased with the performance of the package and if necessary, I will rent the PC 200 LC-8 and the EZ-V grubber/extractor again. I have offered to hand out Burrell’s business cards to my other ranch neighbors that have the same problem we had on the John E. Fish ranch.”
Since most states encourage brush management, Ward is working with the NRCS and the Environment Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for financial assistance with this project.
The main reasons for brush management (mesquite and cedar) is to restore degraded rangeland, improve the cattle and wildlife habitat, increase plant diversity and overall improve of hydrologic function of the range land to make it more productive. Mesquites especially, have a tendency to send out enormous root system that soak up as much water as possible and deprive other, more beneficial vegetation. The government normally requires no permits for brush removal, except in some metropolitan areas where there may be regulation codes.
With millions of acres in jeopardy in Texas, Oklahoma and other surrounding states, there are multiple governmental subsidy programs available to address the situation. Instead of simply burning the trees and roots, there are organizations that are trying to find more profitable uses for the by products. Both the mesquite and cedars have extraneous uses ranging from furniture manufacturing to biodegradable fuels and the every famous mesquite smoked meat products. The reduction/eradication of the cedars will also help millions of people that suffer from cedar pollen driven asthma attacks.
For more information, call George Denny at 405/782-7185 or email [email protected]
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