Fall Feature: FFA Tackles Spotted Knapweed for Ag. Issues
By: Jolene Christensen and Amber Mendenhall
The South Summit FFA in Kamas, Utah is taking on spotted knapweed in their community. A group of FFA students has chosen to tackle the spotted knapweed infestation near Kamas for their Agriculture Issues Forum in Career Development.
Students from the South Summit FFA have been involved in the treatment and control of spotted knapweed in their community since 2015. During the summer of 2015, Dave Bingham, the Summit County Weed Supervisor, spoke at a community meeting in Kamas to begin developing a plan to control spotted knapweed. Dave began using a grant from the U.S. Forest Service to conduct herbicide treatments in most of the spotted knapweed infestation.
Jolene Christensen, Jake Wolstenhume and the FFA Students met with Summit County to discuss the use of biocontrol in sites where herbicide was not a good option. FFA students selected three sites and two biocontrol agents. The seed head weevil, Larinus minutus, and the root weevil, Cyphocleonus achates, were selected for use on the spotted knapweed infestations. L. minutus reduces spotted knapweed populations by feeding on seeds to prevent the spread of this noxious weed. C. achates can kill spotted knapweed by feeding on the roots.
A group of FFA students travelled to the Squarrose knapweed collection field day in July 2015. Students collected 3000 knapweed seed head weevils and transported them to the three selected sites in Kamas. The Summit County Weed Department released 100 knapweed root weevils in one of the selected locations during the same year. FFA students conducted SIMP transect monitoring and root sampling to test for biocontrol agents at all three sites in 2015. The FFA continued to monitor and release both biocontrol agents in 2016 and 2017 with the assistance of the Summit County Weed Department.
With three years of community service, weed control and monitoring, the South Summit FFA decided to use their accomplishments for the Agriculture Issues competition. In order to compete in the Ag. Issues competition, students must research and present an issue such as spotted knapweed. They are required to work on their project with professional cooperators. Students present the issue with proposed solutions to community forums and groups of professionals. Students form a portfolio from the data collected and solutions applied. Students then present this portfolio at a national competition. We would like to wish our FFA students the best in their competition!