Managing Invasive Species: Leafy Spurge Control

Funded through Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI).

The Rural Development Institute (RDI) coordinated the Managing Invasive Species: Leafy Spurge Control project that aims to enhance control of leafy spurge in Manitoba by increasing awareness, encouraging the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) plans, promoting prevention stewardship, and enhancing biocontrol efforts.

Managing Invasive Species: Leafy Spurge Control built on RDI’s work in biocontrol, technology transfer activities and coordination of the Leafy Spurge Stakeholders Group (LSSG). The LSSG at this time was comprised of more than 20 members from agricultural and conservation agencies plus all three levels of government. It was established to increase awareness of leafy spurge, examine its issues and impacts, provide related communication and outreach, and enhance coordination among stakeholder agencies. RDI coordinated the LSSG, which partnered in this project.

The major components of Managing Invasive Species: Leafy Spurge Control:

  • Awareness and Prevention Strategies: In areas of low to no infestation, the focus is on creating a broad awareness of leafy spurge and prevention strategies to control the spread of the weed.
  • IPM Planning: Producers in moderate and high infestation areas were involved in assessing their leafy spurge infestation, and in developing and implementing specific site-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans for control and containment.
  • Biocontrol: The focus was on the collection of beetles from North Dakota and distributing them in Manitoba.
  • Producer Assistance: Participating producers received financial assistance for control and management activities. Partnerships were developed with other agencies, such as conservation districts and weed districts, for delivery of this assistance.
  • Evaluation: Ongoing monitoring and evaluation was undertaken to assess the impact and success of program activities. Feedback was used to make ongoing improvements to project activities.

Whenever possible, RDI seeks to extend opportunities to students and faculty at Brandon University. Graduates Jennifer McKinnon and April Peers, monitored biocontrol field sites, assisted with awareness activities and events and worked with producers to build their IPM plans.

Leafy spurge is a perennial weed species native to Europe that spreads rapidly in pastures, wildlife areas and disturbed sites such as gravel pits. Leafy spurge is highly competitive and considered impossible to eradicate. The invasive, adaptable and pernicious nature of leafy spurge allows the plant to grow in a variety of soil types and eco-zones including aspen forests, marshes, native grasslands and pastures. Infestation levels of leafy spurge are highest across the northern plains of the US and the three prairie provinces of Canada. Manitoba is the most severely affected province with more than 340,000 acres resulting in an economic loss estimated at $20 million. The control and containment of leafy spurge affects a variety of individuals and agencies including landowners and managers, municipalities, land developers, government services, highways, railways and wildlife organizations.

Beth Peers, former LSSG Coordinator, managed the project with input from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives and other stakeholders. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada contributes financially to this project through the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI).