Goats begin grazing on kudzu in Tryon

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goats grazin&squo; for kudzu eradication Tryon has invested in a different approach to eradicating kudzu: goats. The environmentally friendly approach to eradicating kudzu in Tryon began yesterday morning as Ron and Cheryl Searcy of Wells Farm in Etowah delivered 20 goats to the corner of Carolina Drive and U.S. 176. They will go to work now eating everything — mostly kudzu –&bsp; on the town-owned property there. The property is expected to be part of Tryon&39;s future greenway. Ron Searcy said the area is a perfect fit for both his goats and Tryon&39;s kudzu eradication hopes. Kudzu is about 18 to 20 percent protein and there are two streams that run through the property, so the goats will be happy and healthy without further human intrustion on their meal ticket. &uot;In areas like this they (goats) do a much better job of staying healthy,&uot; said Searcy. &uot;In a weeks time, they&squo;ll probably have the leaves cleaned off and then they start working on the vine.&uot; Tryon began discussions about eradicating kudzu on town owned property a couple of years ago when councilman Jim Scott brought up the idea. At the time, chemicals were agreed to be purchased to solve the problem, which was expensive. This area chemicals cannot be used due to the streams and John Vining, with the Polk County Cooperative Extension Office has coordinated the current environmentally friendly solution with Wells Farm, which specializes in eradicating unwanted vegetation such as kudzu, dry grass and briars. Searcy said along with eradicating the kudzu and other weeds, goats naturally fertilize the ground and keep it well aerated. &uot;They leave fertilizer behind. We don&squo;t charge for that,&uot; Searcy said jokingly. The town will pay approximately $600 for the goats to stay on this section of property for about one month. Searcy said it normally takes a couple of times for the goats to completely eradicate the roots of kudzu. Several spectators stopped to see what was going on yesterday morning as the goats were being delivered. Searcy said it often draws curiosity from residents. &uot;They&squo;ll be here for 30 days or less,&uot; Searcy said. &uot;They should have this pretty well under control (by then).&uot; The goats will not only eat the kudzu, but almost immediately yesterday started eating privet, another exotic species on the location. When the goats leave the area it will be so clear that the town will have to seed something to ensure there is no erosion. Vining said the town could seed something like millet in its place. &bsp;&bsp;

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