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Brush Management

Past, Present, Future

By Wayne T. Hamilton, Allan McGinty, Darrell N. Ueckert, C. Wayne Hanselka and Michelle R. Lee

Publication Year: 2004

The presence of brush in rangeland environments continually tops the list of priority issues among landowners, and not just in Texas. Whether they manage their land for livestock, hunting, or wildlife watching, what to do about unwanted woody plants remains a serious and pervasive question for landowners everywhere. In the pages of this book, leading range management professionals introduce and explain not only the mechanisms of managing brush but also the changes in management philosophy and technology that have taken place over time. From the futile attempts at eradication to the successes of integrated brush management, expert practitioners examine mechanical, biological, chemical, and fire-related methods from three perspectives—the past, the present or “state-of-the-art,” and the future. In a final discussion, three specialists address the timely and important subject of brush management as it relates to water yield, economics, and wildlife. Brush Management: Past, Present, Future gives readers a straightforward and comprehensive view of a topic that remains a consistent concern for livestock, wildlife, and land management—one that will serve as a useful and interesting summary of the subject for teachers, students, landowners, and management professionals.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Texas A&M University Agriculture Series


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pp. vii-viii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-13

Management of woody plants and weeds has been at or near the top of every survey we have seen that asked rangeland producers to identify top priority issues affecting their operations. Although we have changed the way we view brush and weeds with respect to the best composition of plants for a variety of purposes, the fact remains that they are of as much or greater concern to...

Mechanical Brush Management

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pp. 15

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2. Mechanical Practices prior to 1975

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pp. 17-32

A variety of mechanical tools and procedures were developed to combat brush problems throughout the eradication and control eras. Extensive mechanized brush control has a history beginning in the early 1930s that has developed through concurrent and distinct phases involving the use of plows, saws, steel cables, heavy chains, large rolling choppers, large...

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3. Current State of the Art

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pp. 33-46

Brush-dominated rangelands occur over vast areas of Texas that were previously dominated by grasses. Coping with excessive tree and shrub cover has been a costly and often futile activity of ranchers for several decades. Historically, brush was viewed only as a nuisance to livestock production, and brush eradication was the prevailing management paradigm of many ranchers throughout the 1950s. Large-scale, broadcast mechanical or chemical...

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4. The Future of Mechanical Treatments for Brush Management

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pp. 47-54

Mechanical methods for brush management have been in use for over 60 years; however, there have not been many new procedures developed within the last 30 years. With the exception of improvements to heavy equipment and basic design modifications to implements, the mode of action remains the same for various mechanical treatments. Practices such as rootplowing, ...

Chemical Brush Management

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pp. 55

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5. Chemical Weed and Brush Control

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pp. 57-66

A comprehensive review of the Journal of Range Management indicated that during the past 50 years there were many more scientific papers published on chemical woody plant control than any other method. This was true regardless of the time period investigated. Even during the last 10-year period, from 1990 to 2000, more papers were published on plant control using herbicides than papers on plant control using fire, biological, or mechanical...

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6. A Paradigm Shift

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pp. 67-75

Controlling unwanted plants with chemicals is not an invention of the twentieth century. For thousands of years, salt has been recognized as an agent to control plant growth. In Judges 9: 45 of the Old Testament, Abimelech defeated the city of Shechem and scattered salt on the soil, to prevent his enemies from growing food in this area. More recently, kerosene was applied to...

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7. Future of Rangeland Chemical Weed and Brush Control

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pp. 76-84

The next 20 or more years will be interesting in respect to the use of chemicals for the management of rangeland weeds and brush. While some may view the future with pessimism, I do not. In my opinion, herbicides will continue to be a valuable management tool on rangelands for a very long time. I am especially excited about several new, promising technologies, which...

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8. Timing

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pp. 85-95

Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) has been the nemesis of southwestern rangelands for many years, seemingly always. We have been attempting to control mesquite at least since the 1940s. And yet, we still have the brush problem with us. It is often said that we are no nearer today than we were 40 or 50 years ago in our understanding of how to control noxious plants, regardless of the species. However, if one is cognizant of the phenological stage and the...

Biological Brush Management

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pp. 97

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9. A Historical Perspective

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pp. 99-120

Biological control is defined as the deliberate use of natural enemies—such as parasites, predators, and pathogens—to suppress the growth or reduce the population of their host plant. Classical biological control involves the carefully regulated importation, conservation, or augmentation of highly selective natural enemies—insects, mites, nematodes, or plant pathogens—of plant species that cause major ecological and economic problems over wide...

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10. Current State Of The Art

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pp. 121-142

A veritable flood of exotic plants have been introduced intentionally or accidentally into North America since the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Many of these plants have increased enormously in their new environment, mainly because the controlling natural enemies (insects and plant pathogens) in the Old World were not brought with them and the native...

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11. The Future of Biological Management of Weeds on Rangelands

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pp. 143-152

The flood of exotic plants being introduced into North America may be slowing due to increased education and legislation providing resources to monitor and reduce the intentional and accidental introduction of unwanted plants. However, we can expect a massive increase in invasive weed problems on rangelands as the plants introduced over the past 100 years become naturalized and begin to spread (McFadyen 1998). New exotic weeds...

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12. Biological Management of Noxious Brush

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pp. 153-163

Most species of rangeland vegetation that are considered noxious weeds and brush either limit or interfere with land management objectives. These plants may be toxic to livestock, excessive users of water, unpalatable to livestock and wildlife, or they may interfere with forage utilization and livestock handling, reduce habitat values for wildlife, or compete with desirable...

Prescribed Fire

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pp. 165

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13. Fire Ecology and the Progression of Prescribed Burning for Brush Management

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pp. 167-174

Systematic studies of grassland burning in the 1920s and 1930s initiated a science base and provided information on burning as a range management tool. By the early 1960s and 1970s, organized research on burning of rangelands gave rise to the idea of prescribed burning—the methodical application of burning to achieve specified natural resource management and...

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14. Prescribed Burning

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pp. 175-186

As we enter the twenty-first century, interest is increasing in the use of prescribed fire to manipulate natural ecosystems in the United States. Federal, state, and private agencies have come to recognize prescribed fire as a tool that can be used to economically manipulate vegetation and reduce fire hazards to life and property. However, there is not a general acceptance on how...

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15. Effective Application of Prescribed Burning

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pp. 187-199

Prescribed burning remains one of the most feasible ways to manipulate vegetation for rangeland management and restoration of natural communities and is, therefore, an important tool for land managers. However, the actual application of this tool still leaves many managers with more questions than answers concerning the best approach to safe and effective use of the practice. ...

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16. What’s Next The Future of Fire

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pp. 200-210

As economics of profitable ranching become more challenging, one of the hardest decisions to make is how to deal with excessive woody vegetation. Because of its relatively low cost and environmental friendliness, fire is viewed as an extremely viable tool for reducing excess brush. However, serious problems can occur, as we witnessed with the unfortunate prescribed...

Issues in Brush Management

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pp. 211

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17. Economic and Financial Consideration Brush Management

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pp. 213-226

During the twentieth century, woody plants, particularly mesquite (Prosopis spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.), have come to dominate much of Texas that was previously covered by grassland or open savanna (Smeins et al. 1997). Replacement of grasslands and savannas with woodlands is a trend that coincides with European settlement and is attributed to a variety of factors, ...

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18. Runoff from Rangelands

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pp. 227-238

Over the last 50 –100 years, extensive areas of grasslands and savannas have converted to shrublands as a result of several factors (Archer 1994, Van Auken 2000). A logical question is, “Are increases in shrub cover modifying the hydrologic cycle, and if so, in what way and to what extent?” Of particular interest is whether or not shrubs may modify the amount of water in...

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19. Integrating Wildlife Concerns into Brush Management

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pp. 239-258

The increasing economic and aesthetic importance of wildlife-based recreation in Texas has fostered a paradigm shift regarding landowner attitudes toward brush. Over the last 50 years, this prevailing paradigm has evolved from brush eradication in the 1940s to brush control in the 1960s to brush management in the 1980s. Brush management...

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20. Conclusion

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pp. 259-273

Significant technological advances have been made in biological, mechanical, chemical, and prescribed burning strategies for managing rangeland brush and weed problems. Effective implementation of these brush and weed management strategies, when coupled with good planning, effective monitoring, and close attention to feedback from monitoring activities, can...


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pp. 275-282

E-ISBN-13: 9781603446280
E-ISBN-10: 1603446281
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585443574
Print-ISBN-10: 1585443573

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 45 b&w photos. 1 line drawing. 2 maps. 23 tables. 12 figs.
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Texas A&M University Agriculture Series

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Prescribed burning -- Texas.
  • Rangelands -- Weed control -- Texas.
  • Range management -- Texas.
  • Brush -- Control -- Texas.
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