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Natural Systems


Support for the Control of Noxious and Invasive Plant Species

Contact the Flint Hills Regional Council for more information about controlling invasive species

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Tool Information


  1. Stewardship
  2. Family Farms and Ranches
  3. Conservation


The purpose of this tool is to assist in controlling and/or eradicating invasive plants in the prairie, and other sensitive habitats, where they could cause harm to native vegetation and the ecosystem.  The Kansas Noxious Weed Law requires every person, company, organization or agency to control, and eradicate those species declared by the legislature to be noxious.The type of invasive will likely determine the control method. Some control tools include biological, chemical applications, mechanical removal, cultural, or a mix of approaches. Education and partnerships with multiple stakeholders and knowledge bases, including state and local government are key to the success of this tool. Some of the considerations that require a wide body of knowledge to navigate include seasonal timing and pollination cycles, potential air pollution, potential water pollution, and unintended side effects to native species of plants and wildlife. Crafting a specific plan of action with your County Weed Director, is good place for a landowner to begin. The Association of County Directors can then connect multiple county's initiatives to make regional networks for greater impact.

Image of Sericea Lespedeza, a challenging invasive species in the Tallgrass Prairie (Image from Professor Summer's Web Garden website) 


Noxious and invasive plant species displace native plant species, interfere with the production of agricultural crops, increase erosion, destroy wildlife habitat, and decrease property values, therefore destabilizing the region. Controlling invasive plant species and stimulating the growth of native species ensures diversity of species well-adapted to the local weather, soils, and wildlife. Native species helps to make more resilient ecosystems, or ecosystems more capable of bouncing back from natural and man-made stresses including flooding, fire, drought, and pollutants.

Additional Information

Kansas Department of Agriculture - Noxious Weed Program

The Noxious Weed Control Program provides technical assistance to individual landowners, state and federal agencies as well as other companies and organizations that manage land in Kansas.

County Weed Directors' Association of Kansas

Provide a forum to discuss common problems facing county weed directors and support agriculture as well as noxious weed impacts on the agriculture economics in Kansas.

KState Research and Extension Services

Fort Riley, Environmental Division

In partnership with Kansas Wildlife Parks and Tourism the Army has adopted a proactive stance to ensure our public lands entrusted to it at Fort Riley are protected for future generations. The fort's leadership has established a wide range of environmental programs to protect the health of Fort Riley's land, water, air and wildlife as well as the well-being of personnel, residents, guests and members of surrounding communities.

Implementation Strategy

Champions and Partners

Audubon KS (Ron Klataske, (785) 537-4385, ron_klataske@audubonofkansas.org)

Nature Conservancy (Brian Obermeyer), (785) 233-4400), bobermeyer@tnc.org)

KSU, Dept of Agronomy (Walt Fick), 785-532-7223, whfick@ksu.edu

Kansas Department of Agriculture - Noxious Weed Program County Weed Director, and cost share herbicides

KState Research and Extension Services


Long (8+ years)



Cost Details

The annual cost to each landowner to manage noxious and invasive plants can possibly be reduced through a systematic regional approach to control and eradication through tighter networks of partnership. This is an ongoing tool or program.

Funding Sources

Kansas Department of Agriculture - Noxious Weed Program - Grants and cost share

Each County-appointed Weed Supervisor may request funds of the County for management of noxious plants.

KState Research and Extension Services

Implementation Details

A brief outline of the first few steps necessary for implementation are provided. The steps outlined here are provided only as a suggested starting point and other approaches are certainly valid.

  1. Inventory noxious and invasive species on land.
  2. Contact County Weed Supervisor and nearby property owners to discuss local priority challenges.
  3. Create a plan of action for addressing  the challenges with quarterly report-back to County Weed Supervisor and nearby property owners.
  4. Kansas County Weed Supervisors to meet quarterly to understand regional challenges and how to maximize resources and collaborate on major infestations.

Case Study

Leafy Spurge and Sericea Lespedeza studies

Leafy spurge is an exotic plant species that threatens grasslands in the upper Great Plains. It was introduced accidentally via a shipment of seed from Eurasia to Minnesota in the 1800s. Populations of this plant have exploded and now cover nearly three million acres. Leafy spurge outcompetes native grasses and forbs by shading surrounding plants and dominating the water and nutrients in the soil. The plant has reduced productivity of rangelands by 50-75% because most range animals avoid its poisonous sap.

Land managers have attempted many cultural, chemical, and biological methods to control leafy spurge. Its well-developed roots, extending as deep as 15 feet with a lateral spread of 35 feet, allow the plant to withstand a variety of control methods. Cultural methods such as deep cultivation, mowing, and fire have been attempted unsuccessfully. Grazing by sheep and goats slows its spread, but does not eradicate it. Chemical herbicides such as Picloram are not cost-effective and are restricted in some areas. 

Biological control, the use of insects and/or pathogens to control a population, has been the most successful approach. To find appropriate biological agents, scientists have collected insects in Europe that are natural predators of leafy spurge and tested their applicability and safety for use in the United States. So far, USDA officials have approved five insect species: the long-horned beetle, a gall midge, and three species of flea beetles that have performed particularly well.

(Article referenced)

Sericea lespedeza an exotic, drought-hardy perennial legume was first introduced into the United States from Japan. It was planted from the 1930s through the 1950s as a forage crop, for healing erosion scars on farmlands, establishing cover on mine spoils, and as cover for wildlife. Sericea lespedeza has spread to extensive areas of native prairie and other lands not under cultivation in the more humid regions of the Great Plains in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and eastward into Missouri and Iowa in the past decade. Left uncontrolled, the plants may dominate native grasslands. Hectares infested with sericea lespedeza in Kansas increased from 3,200 in 1988 to 187,492 in 2001, and it now occurs in 72 of the 105 counties. Seeds are disbursed primarily by wildlife and humans. Herbicides are available but expensive and often ineffective in long-term control. A potential biological control is the lespedeza webworm, a defoliating moth, larva that reduced seed production 98% in infested plants. Lespedeza webworms were successfully transplanted into a sericea lespedeza population not previously infested. Severe drought in 2001 reduced lespedeza webworm numbers by 87% to 100% in sites sampled in eastern Kansas.

(Image from Omnilexa website)

(Article quoted)


These examples of analysis to determine biological controls are indicative of the ongoing Kansas noxious week research and success.