2022 Weed-Free Inspections

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Watch for our Operators Information Meet and Greet Coming Spring of 2022Become informed and certify early!

Alaska’s Certified Weed-Free Gravel Program is a voluntary inspection program administered by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources/Plant Materials Center and carried out on the Kenai Peninsula by the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District.  The purpose of the program is to increase the availability of weed-free products to land managers working in sensitive areas to prevent the spread of invasive weeds and protect fish and wildlife habitat.

The demand for certified weed-free gravel is growing.  The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge began requiring certified weed-free gravel for all construction projects within Refuge boundaries in late 2013.  The US Forest Service, US Department of Transportation and BLM have also started to include weed-free provisions in their contracts.  We expect demand to continue to expand as a result of large-scale highway projects slated for the Kenai Peninsula.

Getting certified is probably easier than you think.  The first thing to know is that not all weeds are on the invasive list.  The second is that even when invasive weeds are found, it is possible to treat them to meet certification requirements.  Keep in mind that gravel has to be inspected before being moved.  Certificates are good for 1 – 6 months depending on time of year and site conditions.

Certification is affordable.  The annual fee of $500 includes three to four inspections and expert guidance on weed prevention and effective control measures at one site up to 5 acres.  Partial-year certification is also available for short-term projects.

Be ready to bid on projects requiring certified weed-free gravel by requesting inspection early.  Inspections are scheduled on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For an inspection request form and fee schedule or request information about our Certified Weed-Free Forage program, email kenaiswcd@gmail.com, or call 283-8732 x 5. To learn more about what weeds are a problem and why, visit www.kenaiweeds.org.

In the News: Local Agriculture

Growing the Economy: Agriculture Flourishing on the Kenai Peninsula

By Jenny Neyman

Dec. 23, 2015 — Redoubt Reporter

When people think about the economy of the Kenai Peninsula, it’s usually oil and gas, fishing, and maybe education, health care or government. But there’s a growing trend to add another sector to that list — farming.

“These are not hobby farmers, these are hard-working folks. They are investing in infrastructure, they are buying equipment, they’re building storage, they’re building refrigeration for peonies, they’re putting up more high tunnels planting more. These folks are thinking ahead, and I think the rest of us should, as well,” said Heidi Chay, manager of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District, speaking at a Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting Dec. 16.

Commercial agriculture is typically thought of on a big scale, but the Kenai Peninsula is growing its own agricultural revolution, one small operation at a time.

“Today the farms that are making headlines are the small farms under 10 acres, very likely under 5 acres,” Chay said.  …

Link to the full article: https://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/growing-the-economy-agriculture-flourishing-on-kenai-peninsula/

Help ID Soil Research Priorities

Kenai Peninsula farmers and gardeners are invited to participate in a quick-and-easy survey to help establish priorities for soil-based research right here on the Kenai Peninsula. An initial list of projects was developed in November by representatives of Kenai and Homer Soil and Water Conservation Districts, NRCS and UAF Cooperative Extension. Now it is your turn to weigh in!  Here’s a link to the survey:
It will take about 3-5 minutes to complete. Please respond by Dec. 15 if possible. For more information, contact Heidi Chay at Kenai Soil and Water, 283-8732 x 5.

Local Media: O’Brien Garden and Trees

High tunnels boost Kenai orchard

By KELLY SULLIVAN and RASHAH McCHESNEY
Peninsula Clarion
June 22, 2014
Inside the towering high tunnels’ at O’Brien Garden and Trees, are rows of meticulously sown trees, erupting with vibrant green leaves; the branches laden with the beginnings of this year’s fruit crop.

The expansive green space is the result of four-decades of experimentation and the recent move to indoor growing for the agricultural operation.

Link to the full article: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2014-06-22/how-to-use-a-high-tunnel

National Press: Flowers from Alaska

Flowers From Alaska

by Amy Nordrum, Atlantic Monthly

For late-summer weddings, the peonies can only come from one place. And when one woman realized that, she started planting.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Beks, North Pole Peonies

Peonies—those gorgeous, pastel flowers that can bloom as big as dinner plates—are grown all over the world, but there’s only one place where they open up in July. That’s in Alaska, and ever since a horticulturalist discovered this bit of peony trivia, growers here have been planting the flowers as quickly as they can.

… Meanwhile, large flower companies like Currie’s in the lower 48 states are watching Alaska’s small growers to see what they can make of the opportunity before them. One company—Kennicot Brothers from Chicago—has already invested in the state’s peony industry, buying into several farms on the Kenai peninsula. …

Full article:  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/flowers-from-alaska/372994/

From the Local Media

Alaska gardening interest booms, as tunnels extend growing season

Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter
May 2, 2014

(excerpt) “This will be our third year with a high tunnel, and they’re unbelievable,” said Bill Lynch, of North Kenai, who along with this wife, Liz, led the discussion on this subject.

“We used to be limited to the usual Alaskan crops: cabbage, carrots, broccoli, etc. But now I grow fruit, like melons and blackberries, and artichokes and tomatoes,” he said. Having high tunnels increases what he grows, and it also increases how much and for how long.

“It used to be all the produce we grew would come ripe all at the same time, but now we can harvest fresh produce year-round. We got three full crops of carrots last year. We planted tomatoes by April 15th and by the first of May we were already harvesting. We ended up getting 400 pounds of tomatoes and 2,000 pounds of produce total last year from our unheated high tunnel. It would be 10 degrees outside, but inside the plants were fine,” he said.

Lynch said that the high tunnel was responsible for much of his success, but he also learned about using smaller low tunnels, within the larger one, to exponentially increase solar heat to plants. He said the concept is one that should be familiar to many Alaskans — dressing in layers to stay warm.

“Studies have shown the more layers, the more heat is retained,” he said. “Each tunnel over a plant is equivalent to moving one and a half zones warmer, or 500 miles south. This means a high tunnel will bring you to a growing season equal to northern Kansas, and adding a low tunnel in the high tunnel will move you to a growing season similar to Oklahoma.”

Link to full article:
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140502/alaska-gardening-interest-booms-tunnels-extend-growing-season

 

 

Feb. 10/11 Workshops for Hay Growers and Users

UAF/Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Fox River Cattlemen’s Association and Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, is hosting a Forage Workshop in Kenai and Homer.

Kenai – Monday, February 10, 2014 5:30 PM registration, 6:00-8:00 PM program, Kenai Community Library

Homer – Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:30 PM registration, 6:00-8:00 PM program, Kachemak Bay Campus, Room 219

To Pre-register, contact Vicki Heinz at UAF CES Kenai District, 907.262.5824 or vheinz@alaska.edu

Dr. Mingchu Zhang will present on “Organic and inorganic nutrient sources for hay production in Alaska”. The talk will cover the results of experiments in Homer and Fairbanks area for hay production from adding organic (including fish fertilizer) or inorganic fertilizers. He will also briefly discuss soil testing.

Dr. Milan Shipka will present on “Hay quality considerations and how best to use the hay you have available”. You can’t change the quality of hay once you’ve put it in your barn. Anyone with animals needs to consider the nutrient needs of their animals and how best to get the nutrients to their animals. Dr. Shipka will discuss nutrient needs and digestion in ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, goat, sheep, llama, alpaca, etc.) and the nutrient needs and digestion in horses.

This FREE workshop is offered to all animal and hayproducers and the interested public.

Invasive Plant Update

Refuge Notebook: A window of opportunity to eradicate Elodea
By John Morton, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Nov. 7, 2013 Peninsula Clarion

Mark Twain was supposedly fond of saying “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” I don’t claim to be prescient most of the time, but when it comes to ridding the Kenai Peninsula of Elodea, the first submerged freshwater invasive plant to make it to Alaska, I’m pretty confident that we have only a very small window of opportunity.

About this time last year, Elodea had been discovered for the first time on the Kenai Peninsula in Stormy Lake (400 acres), with a single fragment found on the shores of Daniels Lake (620 acres). In February, we returned to Daniels Lake to confirm that Elodea was growing there with an ice auger and a modified chimney sweep as our sampling device. We returned by boat in late May just after ice-out to better assess its distribution in the lake. ….

The District is one partner of the Cooperative Weed Management Area, the multi-agency group that is directing elodea detection and eradication efforts on the Kenai Peninsula.  Read the rest of the article here

Poster Contest Winners 2013