Simulated trampling by cattle negatively impacts invasive yellow-flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) when submerged.
Yellow-flag iris (Iris pseudacorus L.) is a nonnative, invasive wetland plant that disrupts riparian ecosystem processes and is widely distributed across the United States and Canada. Due to its physiological and morphological characteristics, I. pseudacorus has the capacity to exclude native vegetation and form extensive monocultures in both lotic and lentic wetland systems. Methods commonly used to manage I. pseudacorus include manual (e.g., hand pulling, digging) and mechanical (e.g., mowing) treatments for small populations and herbicide applications for larger populations; however, herbicide applications near water may be prohibited due to label restrictions. The objective of this research was to evaluate cattle trampling as a nonchemical method to reduce I. pseudacorus in riparian habitats. A greenhouse study was conducted to investigate the effects of inundation and two different timings of simulated trampling on I. pseudacorus density, height, and soluble sugar concentrations in the rhizomes. A complementary field demonstration was established on a ranch in northwestern Nebraska to evaluate cattle trampling effects on I. pseudacorus density and height after two consecutive years. Simulated cattle trampling in the greenhouse had no effect on I. pseudacorus density or height of non-inundated samples. However, combining trampling with inundation reduced I. pseudacorus density from a median of 10 I. pseudacorus per pot to 0 I. pseudacorus per pot and median height from 0.35m to 0m by the conclusion of the study. Additionally, the field demonstration resulted in reductions of both density and height of I. pseudacorus after two consecutive years (72% and 67% reduction, respectively). Soluble sugar concentrations were not impacted by any treatment.