It is time. The dreaded backpack spraying is finally here.
This week we started learning about spraying exotics and invasive plants with herbicide using backpack sprayers. Filled with water and blue dye, each of us calibrated our backpacks, learning the intricacies of the packs, how to pump them up, how to adjust the spray of our wands, and how to spray with accuracy. We learned about the various herbicides we will use this summer, on which plants and where within the park we will spray, and how the plants absorb the herbicide. We learned how to safely fill our packs with the herbicide cocktail, and how to watch out for each other so we do not tip over (each pack weighs about 40 pounds).We learned how to safely clean up spills and the importance of staying away from water sources. We learned how to check wind conditions to make sure we are not spraying into gusts over 10 miles an hour. We practiced walking in a line together, making a grid-like pattern, efficiently and accurately covering the targeted area.
But most importantly, we all learned how to keep a smile on our faces in spite of the blazing heat, the weight of the packs, the prospect of confrontational visitors who disagree and/or do not understand the importance of exotic and invasive management, and the inevitability of getting blue dye all over our clothes. Watch out mulch, backpack spraying might edge you out as the best team building activity the Veg Crew has done this summer.