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Goats on the Greenway

If you love the Third Creek Greenway like we do, you might have noticed some friendly visitors on the stretch right behind the Agriculture Campus. Recently we’ve hired a herd of goats! These non-motorized mowers are helping eradicate the kudzu in this area. Sam Adams, the arborist for our campus, started thinking about alternative ways to eliminate the kudzu last summer. He says that in this particular area, with the kudzu so close to the creek and people on the greenway, putting heavy herbicides on the plants had too many adverse effects. Goats don’t seem like an obvious alternative at first, but they are effective.

The goats will graze on areas that are hard for human workers to deal with, like steep slopes and extremely overgrown areas. Not only can they reach these places, they work harder than motorized equipment! Goats are particularly effective when grazing kudzu because of the anatomy of the plant. The kudzu vine grows from tubers, and as the plant grows the tuber becomes larger and larger in size. Each time the kudzu is grazed, the tuber will decrease in size and eventually wither. Sam believes that it will take a few grazes a year and at least three grazing seasons for the kudzu to be completely eradicated. Although this is a lengthy process, the benefits of the goats are worth it.

There is a new mindset forming within landscaping, where sensitivity about working with pesticides is paramount. This new perspective lends itself to alternative forms of landscaping, like using goats to graze overgrown areas or working with native species. In the long run, these methods will be less labor intensive and require fewer resources to maintain. Along with these measures, our campus has been a certified Bee Campus! The goal with this is to add more areas where pollinators will thrive. All of these ideas will help make our campus environment a sustainable one!