Submitted to: Weed Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/8/2014
Publication Date: 1/2/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/63004
Citation: Sheley, R.L., Sheley, J.L., Smith, B.S. 2015. Economic savings from invasive plant prevention. Weed Science. 63(1):296-301. doi: 10.1614/WS-D-14-00004.1.
Interpretive Summary: Weed prevention should be a top priority when developing an invasive plant management program. However land managers have very little information from which to assess the benefits. We developed a simple economic model to assess savings in forage for livestock that could result from implementing prevention programs. The results indicate that savings per animal unit month (AUM) increase as the size of the initial infestation decrease. The implications from this research indicate that prevention programs should focus on eradicating seed sources would provide a cost savings if implemented when infestations are small.
Technical Abstract: Prevention programs are often assumed to be the most cost-effective method for managing invasive plants. However, there is very little information about economic and biological factors that determine the forage benefits resulting from prevention programs. We developed a simple economic model to assess the savings in livestock forage that might result from various prevention programs. It compares a prediction of populations with and without a prevention program using a logistic growth function. The models considered animal unit month (AUM) price and interest rates as the primary economic input variables. The primary biological input variables are invasive plant utilization levels, the size of the initial infestation, and the spread rate with and without prevention. Our models suggest that as the AUM price increases and/or the interest rate decreases, the total savings per protected AUM increases. Logically, the less livestock consume of the invasive plants, the more potential loss, but if livestock consume more or the weeds, the potential loss is less. These models also show that the savings per AUM increases as the size of the initial infestation size decreases, suggesting that prevention should focus on eradicating seed sources early in the program. Using our inputs, the savings per AUM was about $9.20 for each percent reduction in spread rate over 100 years.