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Long before the sugar plantations, dairy farms, and urban runoff, water hyacinth was embedded in the South Florida ecosystem. As pollutants from agriculture and urbanization increased, the hyacinths quietly soaked it up. In the 1960's surveys by the Army Corp of Engineers reported over 3000 acres of water hyacinths on Lake Okeechobee alone. By the time significant eradication efforts began in the early 1970's, South Florida had millions of pounds in phosphorus and nitrogen sequestered within water hyacinths. Following treatment with chemical herbicides and biological controls, hyacinths decomposed and returned vast quantities of these nutrients back into the water.

The transformation of hyacinth into biochar, a sustainable soil amendment, may provide key incentives to offset the cost of mechanical water hyacinth control. At the same time, removal of hyacinth bio-mass from the watershed will work to restore and revitalize our waterways.


Copyright © 2011  Jon L. Boynton.