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Goat project works to rid area of kudzu

The Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District recently secured a grant from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to protect riparian buffers in the Appomattox River watershed.

They selected the nature trail at Fuqua School, which runs along part of Grosses Creek feeding into the Appomattox River. The riparian buffer (vegetation along the stream) there is in danger due to the thick kudzu vine that is overtopping and killing the trees. Without the trees, the creek would be susceptible to erosion and unhealthy conditions.

The grant covered the cost of using goats to eat and control the kudzu growth this spring. Although the goats did not completely eradicate the kudzu, they did eat it down and slow the spread.

On May 19, about 40 adult female goats and 62 baby goats (ranging from one week to five weeks old) arrived at Fuqua School. The goats were placed on the property adjacent to Grosses Creek that had the thickest kudzu. The goats were anxious to eat the kudzu as it is one of their favorite leaves to eat.

Within five days, the goats had eaten all of the kudzu and other unwanted vegetations, despite the heavy rain.

“For years I have wanted to do something to control the kudzu vine, an invasive species, along the nature trail at Fuqua School,” Kelly Atkinson, education coordinator for the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District, said. “Currently in my job as the education specialist with the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District, I was made aware of a grant opportunity through the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to help improve riparian buffer habitat. Thanks to that grant and the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District in partnership with Fuqua School, I was able to bring Goat Busters to the Fuqua School campus to eat the kudzu vine. Although the goats did not kill the kudzu, they provided the first step to keep it under control. The goats contributed to saving the riparian buffer along Grosses Creek which is in the Appomattox River watershed. This is not only important for the longevity of the nature trail but also the health of our local river system. I will continue to monitor the area and work with Fuqua School to promote chemical free management of the area.”

The follow-up plan to keep the Kudzu under control is still in the works. It may include spot application of an herbicide and weed eating and mowing the area.