Integrated Weed Management

Integrated weed management is an inclusive strategy for controlling the spread of noxious and invasive weeds that uses multiple techniques together to obtain results that individual techniques could not.


Biological – The use of living organisms to reduce the health and reproductive capabilities of specific weeds.

Biological agents are not available for all noxious weeds in Kansas

Not all of our noxious weeds have biological control agents to help manage them.  Because of the fear that an introduced species may end up eating some of our native or commercially valuable plants, some weeds are safe from this form of attack.

As an example, Johnsongrass is closely related to Grain Sorghum, a valuable crop species in Kansas.  Therefore, researchers who are looking for insects to eat our weeds have to be especially careful to ensure that none of them will switch over to the crop species once they get here.

Click below to find out more about the work being done to find and introduce biological control agents.

Determining which insects can be used for biological control

A branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducts research to find, identify, evaluate and prioritize potential biological control agents for use against invasive species.

This research focuses on foreign exploration in the home range (most commonly Eurasia) of the target weeds, finding and identifying their natural enemies, and characterizing the promising candidate agents as to life cycle(s), specificity to the target species, ecological adaptations including climate and soils matching, host ranges (risk analysis), and rearing procedures. They will then conduct tests of candidate organisms in laboratory and field experiments.  Extensive care is taken to ensure that these agents will not feed on any species other than that being targeted.  Those biological control agents that show promise will be petitioned for approval from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  Submissions will be made for permits for further test releases in the United States.

Biological Control Agents Available for Use Against Kansas Weeds

Bull Thistle Leafy spurge Russian knapweed
Urophora stylata Aphthona abdominalis* Aulacidea acroptilonica*
Aphthona cyparissiae Jaapiella ivannikova
Canada thistle Aphthona czwalinae Subanguina picridis*
Ceutorhynchus litura* Aphthona flava
Urophora cardui Aphthona lacertosa Russian thistle
Aphthona nigriscutis Coleophora parthenica
Dalmatian toadflax Hyles euphorbiae*
Calophasia lunula Oberea erythrocephala Spotted knapweed
Eteobalea intermediella Spurgia esulae Agapeta zoegana
Mecinus janthiniformis Bangasternus fausti*
Rhinusa antirrhinin Musk thistle Cyphocleonus Achates
Rhinusa linariae Cheilosia corydon* Larinus obtusus
Psylloides chalcomera Metzneria paucipunctella
Diffuse knapweed Psylloides chalcomera Terellia virens
Bangasternus fausti Rhinocyllus conicus** Urophora affinis
Chaetorellia acrolophi* Trichosirocalus horridus** Urophora quadrifasciata*
Larinus minutus
Pterolonche inspersa* Poison Hemlock Yellow toadflax
Sphenoptera jugoslavica Agonopterix alstroemeriana Calophasia lunula
Urophora affinis Eteobalea intermediella
Urophora quadrifasciata* Puncturevine Mecinus janthinus
Microlarinus lareynii Rhinusa antirrhinin
Field bindweed Microlarinus lypriformis Rhinusa linariae
Tyta luctuosa Sphenoptera jugoslavica
Purple loosestrife
Hylobius transversovittatus*
Galerucella calmariensis
Galerucella pusilla
Nanophyes marmoratus

                                                 *Permit Required
               **Contact your County Weed Department for availability

Permits and Regulations

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requires any person or agency to obtain a permit for each biological control agent they would like to import into their state.  The Kansas Department of Agriculture has obtained permits for agents that are specific to the following noxious and invasive weed species.

If you have any of the weeds listed below and would like to use biological control against them, contact the Kansas Department of Agriculture or your County Weed Director  and ask for their assistance.

  • Chemical – The use of herbicides to reduce or eradicate populations of weeds.

    Cost Share Herbicides

    County noxious weed departments are required to sell herbicides for use on noxious weeds at cost share prices.  The prices and the herbicides available will vary from county to county but each noxious weed department will offer at least one herbicide for each noxious weed known to grow within its jurisdiction.  Contact your County Noxious Weed Department for more information.

    Before applying any pesticide, be sure to read and follow the label.  The label is the law.  Failure to follow the label instructions is a violation of the Kansas Pesticide Law.

    You are allowed to use herbicides that are not on the Cost Share Herbicides list.  However, if you would like to purchase cost share herbicides from your County Weed Director you can only purchase those listed and you can only apply them to noxious weeds.

    The following database contains information pertaining to those pesticides currently available for cost share.  Not all of them will be available in all counties.  Contact you County Weed Director for more information and assistance in selecting the correct herbicide for your situation.

    IMPORTANT – Always follow the label in applying any pesticide.  It is the law.

    Approved Herbicides for Cost Share

    Licensed Pest Control Companies

    Kansas law requires that any company applying pesticides commercially is required to be licensed by KDA's Pesticide Program.   Click here to ensure that the applicator you are considering hiring is properly certified.

    Companies can be licensed to apply pesticides in different types of locations.  Some of these categories will pertain to noxious weeds more than others.  Therefore, depending upon your needs, look for a company licensed in the following categories:

    1A  – Agricultural Plant (Crops)

    3A  – Ornamental (Flower Gardens)

    3B  – Turf (Lawns & Golf Courses)

    5     – Aquatic (Ponds & Streams)

    6     – Right-of-Way (Roadsides & Ditches)

    All County Weed Directors must be certified in Category 9A, which means they can treat noxious weeds in any location within their county.

  • Cultural – Preventative or other non-chemical measures taken to reduce current populations or keep new populations from becoming established.

    Controlling the Noxious Weeds You Already Have

    If you already have weeds, now is the time to go after them, not only because the law requires you to, but because, over time, your populations will only increase in size and numbers.

    You can still use Cultural Weed Management later but first you need to eradicate, or completely remove, all of the weeds that are there now.

    To do this, you will need to use chemical weed management to eliminate the weeds that are present.  Remember, the law only allows you to use biological or mechanical control by themselves to control annual or biennial weeds (musk thistle).  You have to use them together, or with chemical controls, on perennial weeds (all the others).

    Once you have eradicated the noxious weeds from your land, start over at Managing Your Land to Prevent Noxious Weeds.

    Early Detection and Rapid Response

    Early detection and rapid response (EDRR) is one of the most important, efficient and effective forms of noxious weed control.  If you make regular surveys of your land to look for any weeds that have shown up and control them as soon as you find them, you will probably never have a costly weed control bill.

    It is also very important to be aware of which noxious weeds are currently in or that may someday invade your area. If you find a weed that has not already been identified in your area, it is very important that you contact your County Weed Director.  They can help you eradicate the plants you have found and keep an eye out for others in your area.

    Grazing – An alternative form of cultural control

    An alternate form of cultural control involves the use of livestock.  While cows, horses and sheep can all be used to eat the target weed to reduce its vitality, reproductive capability, and, in some cases, its numbers, goats are most often used.  For more information on using your own livestock for weed control, click the link below.

          Targeted Grazing

    If you don’t have your own livestock, there are companies that offer the service of bringing their goats or other livestock to your place to graze your weeds, helping to reduce populations or prevent seed production.  Before hiring one of these companies, make sure they have the following:

    –  Insurance against damages.

    –  Fencing to contain the animals.

    –  Knowledge of noxious and invasive weeds and the proper time and duration to graze them.

    Grazing Services in Kansas

    Managing Your Land to Prevent Noxious Weeds

    Knowing which species of noxious weeds might infest your land, what kind of conditions they need to become established and preventing those conditions from occurring are the first steps toward cultural weed management.

    Most of the noxious weed species will quickly infest areas of bare, disturbed, overgrazed, or irrigated soil. Preventing these conditions or keeping a close watch on them is vital to prevent new populations of noxious weeds from becoming established.  Keep in mind that the first weed is both the cheapest and easiest weed to control.

    Restoration of Treated Areas

    One of the best ways to prevent noxious weeds from either encroaching upon your land or returning after you have spent a large amount of money to remove them, is to provide competition against them.

    The best way to provide this competition is to plant desirable species of grasses, shrubs and forbs (flowers).  These species do not have to be native although many people enjoy restoring their lands to look as they did when their ancestors first arrived.  They can be any type of non-invasive species that will grow in Kansas’ climate and soils and will provide the necessary competition against the noxious weeds.

  • Mechanical – Physical activities aimed at reducing populations or preventing seed production.

         Not All Weeds Should be Controlled with Mechanical Means

Most plants can be placed into one of three categories based upon their lifespan.  Annual plants sprout, grow, reproduce and die all in the same year.  Perennial plants sprout and produce a long, deep root system in their first year or two then grow and reproduce every year for many years after that.  The third category, biennial are plants that sprout and produce a root system in their first year then grow, reproduce and die in their second year.

Annuals and biennials rely on seeds to reproduce and usually have smaller, finer roots.  Because of this, annuals can often be controlled by pulling, digging, tilling and sometimes, mowing them.  Perennials on the other hand, will sprout new plants from their roots, especially if they are damaged.  Because of this, mechanical means to kill perennials are ineffective or will even increase the number and density of the plants.

Plants in all of these categories produce seed.  Not all seeds will sprout into new plants each year.  Many seeds will lie dormant in the soil until the conditions are right and then will sprout.  Some seeds can sprout after lying dormant for up to 50 years.

Because of the physical effort involved, mechanical weed management is best used on small infestations of annual or biennial weeds and should be repeated for several years until all of the dormant seeds have sprouted and no new plants emerge.

Review the individual control program for the noxious weed you need to control to find out which, if any, mechanical controls are suitable.