DUBLIN, Ohio — There is a growing demand in North America for the use of certified noxious weed free forage and mulch as a preventative program to limit the spread of noxious weeds.
This voluntary certification program is designed to assure that forage (straw, hay, cubes and pellets) and mulch sold with proper certification identification meets minimum standards designed to limit the spread of noxious weeds.
Buyers are provided assurance that forage and mulch certified through this program meets these minimum standards.
Ohio Seed Improvement Association has been designated as the official Noxious Weed Free Forage and Mulch (NWFF & M) Certification Agency in Ohio. Program standards comply with the Regional Weed Free Forage Certification Standards developed by the Regional Weed Free Forage Committee of the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA).
The Regional Weed Free Forage Committee has established minimum standards to allow uniform participation by states and provinces in the program. Forage and mulch certified under the OSIA certification program with proper certification documents or markings attached will be eligible to be shipped into restricted areas in the United States and Canada where only forage and mulch certified under the Regional Forage Certification Standards can be used.
The benefits of a certified weed free forage program includes:
• Protection of natural resources
• Reduction of the spread and introduction of noxious weeds
• Protection of natural habitat for wildlife
• Preservation of the aesthetic value of natural scenery
• Assurance that customers are purchasing certified forage or mulch
• Provide a source of high quality livestock bedding and biomass material
The program also includes gravel pit inspections in order to diminish noxious weeds spreading during the transport of gravel and soil from one area to another. Much surface disturbance occurs at gravel pits and there are open areas where noxious weeds can emerge and become established.
Some state and federal agencies have forage-restricted areas where only certified weed free forage and mulch can be used for feeding animals or as ground cover, according to the Ohio Seed Improvement Association (OSIA) 614-889-1136. OSIA, Secretary/Manager, John Armstrong notes that weed free products can be certified through the association’s Weed Free Forage and Mulch Program.
He further notes that weed free products are certified by removing weeds or preventing the ripening of weed seeds through timing, chemical, or mechanical means; field inspection for the absence of weeds capable of producing seeds; inspection of storage facilities; and issuance of certificates and/or tags.
OSIA identifies 80 species of weeds as noxious weeds including those on the Ohio Prohibited and Restricted lists. Some of these species include common burdock, field bindweed, hemp, horsenette, johnsongrass, musk thistle, oxeye daisy, palmer amaranth, perennial sowthistle, poison ivy, Canadian thistle, curly dock, quackgrass and wild carrot.
Armstrong notes that the cost of certifying weed free forage is variable based on factors such as mulch yield, logistics, field size, and the number of cuttings per season.
For more information contact the Ohio Seed Improvement Association,6150 Avery Road, Box 477, Dublin, Ohio 43016-0477, by phone at 614-889-1136 or on the web at www.ohseed.org.