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Mechanical Harvesting

Control Nuisance Aquatic Vegetation with Mechanical Harvesting

If your lake or pond has been taken over by aquatic weeds, mechanical harvesting may be the solution you’re looking for. Mechanical harvesting is an effective and environmentally friendly management strategy used for removing nuisance aquatic plants from waterbodies. Through harvesting, plant-choked waters can be cleared or channels can be cut through areas of dense vegetation—enhancing recreational use and increasing water flow. Harvesting may also be an option for the removal of large filamentous algae blooms, which provides relief to existing algae issues with the added benefit of removing the biomass and reducing the overall nutrient load.

A committed harvesting program can significantly reduce cover and density of annual plants as generations of seeds are removed from the growing cycle. Additionally, clearing dense aquatic vegetation removes unwanted nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from the waterbody, which is an essential component of any long-term restoration plan. Area selective harvesting can also be employed to manage habitat structure for fisheries or other wildlife without significantly altering the vegetative assemblage.

How does the mechanical harvester work?

The harvesting machine has vertical and horizontal sickle-bar cutters that shear off the plants just above the lake bottom, or to a maximum depth of about six feet. Cut plants are collected and conveyed onboard the harvester to be deposited onshore and dewatered.

How is the plant material disposed?

Depending on the target plant species and the density of the growth, harvesting projects can sometimes yield in the range of 8-15 tons of wet vegetation biomass per acre—that’s a lot of plant material to dispose of! Given these high plant volumes, it is important to identify suitable shoreline off-loading sites as close as possible to the work area. It is also critical to have the appropriate equipment available to keep the operation moving. In order to facilitate efficient plant disposal, SOLitude has invested in a variety of specialty equipment, such as high-speed transport barges and shore-based conveyor systems.

What are the advantages of mechanical harvesting?

  • Offers an eco-friendly solution that does not create temporary water use restrictions during or after the work.
  • Acts as an alternative in situations where herbicides are not appropriate or desired.
  • Removes plant biomass and nutrients from the waterbody.
  • Provides area selective control of nuisance species.
  • Enhances the effectiveness of aquatic vegetation control when combined with other control strategies.
  • Offers a long-term control solution for certain species.

Mechanical harvesting can be performed for many different invasive aquatic plants but is most effective for plants that form a dense surface canopy like water chestnut or water hyacinth. Typically, one to two harvests are recommended to provide season-long control of commonly targeted species. Talk to your lake and pond management professional to find out if mechanical harvesting is the right option for helping control nuisance aquatic vegetation in your waterbody.

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SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, mechanical harvesting, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat assessments, invasive species management and nuisance wildlife management. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.

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