Global Warming, Carbon Sequestration, Wildlife Habitat
The great aversion to Kochia prostrata as an environmental concern stems from the fact that it is a non-native species. This does not equate Kochia prostrata to noxious weed; species such as all varieties of crested Wheatgrass would register in the same category as Kochia prostrata. In fact, Kochia prostrata has much more in common with some of the native chenopods such as fourwing saltbush than any introduced invasive noxious weed. The fact that it is a C4 photosynthesizer that thrives in extremely hostile conditions that would put most other plants on life support is not the limit of its attributes, but merely the beginning. This plant is an extremely important browse for large game animals, including deer and elk. The importance of Kochia prostrata's late season elevated protein levels in comparison to other browse available on the range at these times of the year cannot be overlooked. It is an important vegetative management tool for wildfire mitigation, protecting the other more fragile plants with which it shares its environment from large catastrophic wildland fires. Please see University of Nevada Fact Sheet on Forage Kochia.
There is a large battle raging at the current time in regards to cattle grazing on the western range versus loss of habitat to species such as the sage grouse. We do not hope to bring both sides to a mutual understanding on this matter with the few words that are proffered here. However, if we could introduce something to this environment that would at once greatly improve the efficiency on the acres that are grazed, even under severe drought conditions, and at the same time limit the volatile ladder fuels produced by other exotic species such as cheatgrass and Medusahead; then we have accomplished something for both environmental concerns and economic concerns. We believe Kochia prostrata offers this opportunity. The luxury of time and procrastination on this point will lead to the demise of a healthy range and the plants, animals, and people who call this immense portion of the intermountain west their home.
One of the more overlooked concerns as applies to upland game birds is the lack of cover and overwintering accommodations for many of the insect species necessary for brood survival in early spring. Many of the grass species simply do not offer the diversity required in this area. Kochia prostrata, because of its permanent base structure offers an overwintering home for these insect populations.
If you are purchasing Kochia prostrata and environmental concerns are at the top of your list, you should give consideration to two very important facts. The first is that Kochia prostrata employs C4
photosynthesis; this is an extremely important point in regards to carbon sequestration and entrapment of greenhouse gases. One of the best websites we have seen regarding this subject and its importance as tied to global warming can be found here. The second point is that Washington state has the strictest anti-burning laws in the nation as regards crop residues and what we as seed growers are allowed to do with these residues. We are playing by a very different set of rules than any of our neighbors in the intermountain west.
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