Phragmites on Platte River, North Platte, NE

Increasing the Effectiveness of Phragmites Eradication with Improved Technology is the formal title of this project. It is a multi-year Cooperative Research Agreement to improve the effectiveness of invasive species eradication efforts via improved application technology. This Is a Cooperative agreement between the US Forest Service Northeast Unit and Application Insight, collaborating with Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Valcore Consulting.  We are working with other organizations and individuals to collaborate and this list is growing. Contact us if you are interested in collaborating. 

If you are involved In Phragmites Eradication, We want to know more about how you do it. Please take our survey by clicking this Link:

Click here to take the Phragmites applicator survey

YOUR PARTICIPATION IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO THIS PROJECT! The results will help guide the selection and evaluation of potential new and promising technologies, so that the effort can result in the highest potential benefit to the Phrag eradication community.

As you undoubtedly already know, Phragmites australis is a difficult to control invasive wetland grass, known for its exceptionally dense, tall canopy and vigor. Technical improvements in the application of the herbicides show strong potential to increase the success of eradication efforts and lower the overall cost of application in some situations. As part of this work, we expect to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the needs, attitudes, and resources available to professionals engaged in Phragmites eradication. This is why you’ve been invited to participate.

Often non-traditional spraying technologies mean off-label application methods or rates, and that makes them unattractive or off-limits for many users. This project was undertaken to evaluate promising application technologies and validate them, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of effective application tools & methods available to applicators.

Continue below for the Year 1 Project proposal:


Phragmites australis is a difficult to spray invasive wetland grass, known for its exceptionally dense canopy (reaching 4 meters or more) and overall vigor. It is currently spreading throughout the US faster than eradication efforts can be applied, to the severe detriment of many native plant and animal species. Technical improvements in the application of the materials that have been proven to control it (imazapyr and glyphosate) have strong potential to increase the success of application efforts and lower the overall cost per area of application. This investigation proposes limited year one (2011) activities of: Meeting with and gaining consensus among stakeholders on best  types of invaded areas to focus effort, understanding specific needs of the actual applicators, determining paths of action among stakeholders, establishing sites, acquiring necessary state and federal permits, acquiring equipment, and running some initial non-destructive deposition trials to allow some prediction of various technologies’ relative abilities to penetrate and adequately cover the target canopy. The total project is intended to span 3-4 years, including 2 or more field seasons of actual eradication evaluation with various technology and rate variations, and generation of a report that is intended to both summarize the findings, and create or add to a Best Management Practices document.

Project Lead: Mark Ledebuhr, Application Insight, LLC. 2519 Wilson Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906. Tel: 517-202-6839,


1.       Objective of project

a.      Overall

b.      Year 1

2.       Scope

a.      Overall

b.      Year 1

3.       2011 Partners

4.        Methods

a.      Sites

b.      Application technologies

                                                               i.      Spraying

                                                             ii.      Electronics/accountancy

c.       Rate adjustments

5.       Product/deliverable

a.      Year 1

6.       Budget/time allocation


1.       Project Objectives:

a.       Overall :

To increase the efficacy of invasive Phragmites eradication efforts, based on technical and methodological improvements to herbicide application. This shall be accomplished by:

                                    i.            Evaluating the effectiveness of alternative spraying technologies (ASTs) that may be capable of more effectively delivering lethal doses of the herbicides throughout dense Phragmites stands.

                                  ii.            Identifying priority areas and determine the optimal ASTs within those areas. These priority areas would be defined by their recent colonization such that treatment may prevent establishment of monoculture (islands), or perimeter areas adjacent to monocultures that require specialized treatment methodologies other than helicopter spraying and established wide area methodologies currently used on monocultures.

                                 iii.             Evaluating variations of herbicide dilution to decrease difficulty of application. Many ASTs offer the capability to maintain lethal herbicide dosage depositions without the required amount of carrier water, when compared to conventional nozzle/pressure applications. Reductions in carrier water allows easier transport to the point of treatment, using lighter, more portable application equipment, and increasing the effective range of that equipment. This increase in application efficiency is critical to keeping these eradication sprays economical and effective.  


To use the results to create or add to an improved Best Management Practice (BMP) document. The creation of the improved BMP would leverage the investment in this project to create a national and potentially global positive impact on invasive Phragmites eradication efforts, providing guidance on more efficient and effective use of eradication resources to local land managers.


b.      Objectives, Year 1:

1.       Define methodology, meet with stakeholders and participants to determine definitions for site suitability

2.       Define & choose sites for 2012

3.       Identify and procure equipment/ establish partnerships to procure such.

a.       Control, standard nozzle boom, and 3-4 AST’s TBD

4.       Identify permitting needs, label exemption needs and procure permits for applications  in subsequent years

5.       Mechanical evaluation of  ASTs (contingent on adequate funding and timing)

6.       Establish relationships with other funders/stakeholders


2.       Scope

a.   Overall:

This project intends to evaluate how mechanical technology modifications affect the interaction between the target pest plant, Phragmites australis and the commonly accepted herbicide/surfactant combination Habitat® (imazapyr) / Methylated Soy Oil (MSO). At this time there is no intention to look at other active ingredients or ratios of active/surfactant; however this will be revisited in subsequent years.

Only Phragmites australis will be evaluated as a target species, though it is generally acknowledged that any improvements in application technology may have wider consequences in invasives management, such as Japanese Knotweed.

The overall span of this project is intended to be 3-4 years including the field component and establishment of the BMP document.

b.     Year 1:

Year one will be largely an establishment year for this multi- year project, where test sites are chosen and evaluated, technology is chosen and evaluated, consensus on methodologies amongst stakeholders is gained, and all necessary permits are applied for in anticipation of year 2.  Due to permitting issues, and timelines, actual field evaluation with active ingredients is unlikely. Dye tests or other non-lethal evaluation methods that do not require permitting may be performed.


3.        Year 1 Stakeholders:

                           i.      Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Natural Features Inventory: interview and site choice assistance, floristic impact assessment in subsequent years. (Phyllis Higman)

                         ii.      USFS- Morgantown, WV.(fundor)

                        iii.      MDNR- Invasives eradication program (Sue Tangora)

                       iv.      Ottawa National Refuge, FWS (poss. eval. site)(pending)

                         v.      Application Insight Consulting Group (applications technology,  and project lead)

                       vi.      Valcore Consulting- David Valcore, Special Use Permitting


4.       Methods

a.     Sites

Sites will be chosen with characteristics requiring the highest potential for improved control via technology improvements. Some but not all of the factors that will be considered include:  

·         Remoteness from roads (limitations to machinery access)

·         Presence of vertical cover (restricts aerial)

·         Size of colony

·         Surface hydrology

·         Soil condition

·         Proximity to sensitive areas/ threatened/endangered  species

·         Presence of legacy native vegetation (to assess floristic impact overall)

Site evaluation: Floristic assessment will be made before and after to determine impact on Phragmites and native plant populations, and thereby assess relative efficacy. Size of colony and species present before and after will be included in this. 


b.     Application technologies, spraying:

ASTs will be compared against the hardware recommended on the herbicide label. Criterion for choosing ASTs will include but not be limited to:

·         Ability to apply spray at reduced carrier water volumes

·         Ability to penetrate the canopy well beyond a “line of site”

·         Ability to apply effectively in a broad range of environmental conditions (wind)

·         Require a minimum of maintenance

Specific examples of ASTs may include mistblowers (Solo), electrostatic nozzles (ESS Maxcharge), rotary atomizers (Herbi and similar), air assisted rotary atomizers (Proptec)

Some quantitative deposition work may be done to compare the machinery and its ability to place the material on the plant, however this study does not intend to attempt a mass-balance measurement, so because of that and due to the wide number of other variables the best use of resources in this case will likely be the measurement and comparison of actual mortality of Phragmites between the machinery.

Machinery will be paired to the type of site that it has best chance of offering an improvement on over the standard. Not all machines may be evaluated in all site types.


c.      Application technologies, electronics

This includes GPS based spray monitoring, pulsed-width modulation nozzle control, flow monitoring and flow control. In years 1 and 2 there is no intention to include evaluation of any of these technologies, however if it becomes apparent that there is an appropriate use where inclusion in this study would offer insight or an improvement to a BMP,  then this will be reconsidered.


d.     Rate Adjustments:

For each chosen AST, a range of application rates, first reducing water and in later years with success, reducing applied active ingredient per acre, will be chosen.


4.       Product/deliverable

Year 1:  A report showing progress, sites, chosen equipment, floristic assessments completed, and methods for year 2

Years 2 & 3: Field results.  

Year 4: Summary and BMP document, publication and presentation of results.