BAAM had an eventful April, 2016. We began initial testing of our approach to decomposing Eucalyptus stumps at three locations in the East Bay hills. We were able to partner with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) on one of them and with the East Bay Regional Park (EBRP) system on two others. We inoculated sixty nine recently cut stumps at the three locations.
Why this is important is because the chosen method for the decomposition of eucalyptus stumps is the application of ‘Garlon’ a specialty herbicide that’s quite controversial to local communities downstream of the applied area. We hope that a successful inoculation of two locally sourced saprophytic fungi, Laetiporus gilbertsonii (Sulphur Shelf) and Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail) will shorten the decomposition time of the Eucalyptus stumps and forestall the future application of herbicide. Eucalyptus, love it or hate it, is a very successful propagator. Not only can it regenerate from cut stumps but the downed logs and even the chips have a substantially long decomposition time. Public agencies like EBMUD and EBRP feel the need to quickly reduce fuel as a means of fire suppression and also to lessen the labor load of frequent site visits to remove new sprouts originating from the stumps. A ‘natural’ method sometimes lags behind in terms of time as beneficial fungi are not always in the immediate vicinity of the cut area. If our inoculation can shorten this period than perhaps the use of Garlon type products will be used as a last resort instead of a default practice. Our goal is to move from ‘better living through chemistry’ to ‘better living through mycology’.
Our basic technique is for the cut end of the stumps to be prepared by cross-hatching grooves into them to serve as an anchoring surface for the prepared spawn to be pressed into. The spawn was prepared for us by Far West Fungi in Moss Landing who took local specimens, cultured them and grew them out on oak sawdust. The Laetiporus gilbertsonii is a cellulose decomposer and the Trametes versicolor a lignin one so we felt we could grow both together on certain stumps but we also spread our experiment around to include both single specie inoculations and controlled ‘no inoculation’ samples. In some cases we prepared eucalyptus dowels grown in myceliated spawn and plugged directly into non cut end horizontal surfaces. Afterwards we covered the working area in burlap to retain additional moisture and we tagged the stumps for data entry.
Our continued responsibility is to return every six months to monitor the sites, cut and weigh any new sprouts and keep an accurate journal of observations and conclusions we can take from this research. Hopefully, the mycelia will compare well and entities like our Park system will make it a permanent feature in their ‘best practice’ toolbox.
We also inoculated in Tilden Park, Berkeley and at the Gateway in Orinda.