Pollinators Plus
Museum & Pollinator Habitats
Innovative Ideas
{Plus, read (further below) about a new more effective way to burn rather than use chemical herbicides}
The following are some innovative ways to add value to the invasive plants that we want to remove. By adding value, we effectively reduce the overall cost of removing the plants. These ideas center around the immensely abundant Amur Honeysuckle, but could be applied to Callery Pear, and/or modified to help reduce costs to control other invasives.

  • Compost:   Amur Honeysuckle breaks down too quickly to be considered for a decorative mulch, however it would produce an ideal bedding mulch or compost.  The local cost of compost ranges from $30 per yard and up. A twelve cubic yard wood chip truck would produce at least four cubic yards of finished compost with a total value between $120 and $200 per truckload.

  • Paper Products:​  Since Amur Honeysuckle can be harvested in winter when there are no leaves, there may be serious potential for using it to produce some kind of low end paper products. The plant has become so abundant that it would take quite some time before supplies would be depleted.

  • Biomass Fuel: ​ Not that I am a huge fan of burning anything, but since Duke Energy and other power companies are now burning millions of whole trees as a supposedly sustainable means of generating electricity, this could be considered. Save the forests, remove the invasives, a big win win!

  • Jean Pain Composting:​  Jean Pain was an innovative French farmer and forest land manager who discovered a method of using the composting process to meet all of the energy requirements of his farm.  This included heat, hot water, and even fuel for his truck and tractor. Based on the records of his work, I believe that Amur Honeysuckle would be an ideal plant to utilize for this method due to its high leaf to wood ratio. I am not suggesting that every home and business could benefit from this, but that enough could to create an adequate demand for cost effective removal of this aggressive, fast growing plant.  Note - After all of the heat and energy have been utilized from the compost pile(s), you are left with a valuable compost product that can be used or sold.   {The Permaculture Research Institute article . . . Wikipedia}

  • Fire Starter:  ​Go to any home center, as well as most gas stations and grocery stores and you will find packs of fire starters, and they aren't that cheap. Harvesting Amur Honeysuckle branches could provide a valuable and sustainable fund raising project for youth organizations and conservation/wildlife non-profits.   Fatwood by LL Bean

The bottom line is that Amur Honeysuckle (and other woody invasive plants such as Autumn Olive, and Callery Pear) have significant potential for producing a valuable compost material, and thereby generating value that would help make removal of the plants cost effect. Of course not all plants would be located where harvesting and chipping would be at all practical, but there are many places where it needs to be removed where it would be practical for this. If the fullest potential were reached by producing both heat/energy and compost, the cost for removing Amur Honeysuckle in some locations would be totally covered.​

​Other ideas . . .

Documentary:   There is an urgent need for a full scale documentary to be produced that clearly shows how much Amur Honeysuckle has taken over local parks, nature preserves, road sides, and other landscapes. The documentary also needs to explain why this is far more urgent than simply the loss of pretty native wildflowers. It needs to explain how invasive plants such as the Amur Honeysuckle dramatically reduce, and often eliminate all plant diversity which leaves bees with nothing to feed on throughout most of the growing season. As we know, bees require a wide diversity of plants so that there are different flowers blooming from early spring through fall. Without that plant diversity, the bees will have no food, and eventually disappear.

Here are a few short clips that show some of what kind of footage could be included. (The documentary could include footage shot by drones, or even TV news traffic helicopters). 

Carter Park -  This is an eighty acre nature preserve located near Kings Island, that sits just west of the Little Miami River.

Seven Gables Park -   This is an eight acre recreation park located in Symmes Township, and it is almost entirely over run by invasive plants except where there is mowed lawn.

I-71 & I-275 -  This shows the west side of I-71 from a few miles north of I-275, to a few miles south.

Little Miami River Trail -  This shows a very small stretch of this paved path on the south side of Old C3 Hwy, in Hamilton Township.

Stump Burning:  (New method)  Traditional use of propane torches to kill Amur Honeysuckle stumps has two major drawbacks. The first problem is that since most of the heat generated escapes into the air, the process takes much too long to be worthwhile. The other problem is the significant risk of starting a wildfire.  What we need to do is research the best design for a portable burn chamber that would both contain the heat generated, as well as eliminate the risk of starting an unwanted fire. 
When used in the open air, a small propane torch reaches an unbelievable maximum temperature of 1,995 degrees Celsius (3,623 degrees Fahrenheit).
By creating an insulated burn chamber to sit over and/or around the cut stump, most of the heat generated by the torch will be contained, and produce the desired results in a much shorter period of time. Having an insulated burn chamber sitting over the stump to be burned will keep the burn process contained, and eliminate the chance of an unwanted fire provided a few simple additional precautionary steps are followed when needed.  Experimentation still needs to be done to determine the most effective design for the burn chamber, and the added chimney that will help facilitate a rapid burn.

Another major benefit to burning rather than spraying with chemicals is that it really won't matter much how long after cutting you wait to burn . . . even waiting days or weeks would not make any difference. This means that you could go through with one crew and do all of your cutting on one day, and then come back at your convenience and burn all of the cut stumps. It will be very obvious which stumps have been burned, and which ones havn't. Research would have to be done to determine when the most effective time to burn would be, when the sap is in the ground, or when the sap is in the stump.

Now stump burning will not be the best option in every location and situation, however it may well be the best option in some locations and situations.