Today is the Day!

The crew from Lycott Environmental arrived late Tuesday, about nine of them. They spent the night in camp tents provided by Camp Aloha Hive. More arrived early Wednesday, including two employees of SePRO, the company that manufactures Renovate OTF, the herbicide we are using.  In all there were thirteen people who would actually be handling the chemical.  Early Wednesday morning they began work.

Treatment Map

Weather later in the day promised to be fine, but thick fog blanketed the lake early.  Around dawn a small skiff was sent around the lake to place small orange buoys, using a GPS, to lay out the sections to be done in each batch.  Lycott had developed an elaborate plan that would efficiently use two boats to apply just the right concentrations in the areas of the lake where milfoil grows.  By about 7:30 am the whole crew was involved, setting up the boats and beginning to load the bags of herbicide.  Soon the airboat roared off toward the southwest end of the lake, and the pontoon boat puttered sedately to the north.

Throughout the day, the boats followed their intended courses, going back and forth in adjacent lines like a farmer tilling his field.  Each boat had a driver and one crew.  The drivers looked down most of the time, following the planned track on their GPS’s. Their helpers kept an eye outside the boat, and filled the hoppers with chemical from time to time.  Periodically they would return to one of the staging areas, where others loaded another half ton of chemical, in 40 pound bags.

We applied Renovate to about 130 acres of the lake, which is 450 acres in all.  The planned concentration was to be between 1.5 and 2.0 parts of herbicide per million parts of water.  Click on the map above right to see just where.

There were a few hiccups during the day, as can be expected.  The battery on one of the boats died, and a spreader became clogged.  A second airboat was put in service, and the spreader repaired. The pontoon boat was converted from liquid spreader to dry and back again.  Will Stevens of Lycott adjusted his game plan to meet changing conditions.  By 6:30 this evening the job was complete and the crew began packing up to go home.

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Setting up - preparing the HERD spreader on the front of the airboat

Some of the Renovate was dispersed using a machine that looks a lot like a lawn fertilizer spreader.  A rotating disk below a hopper of dry chemical flings a wide swath from the front of the airboat.

Loading the airboat in the morning fog

The Renovate was delivered in 40 lb. bags.  They were carried out on the dock and loaded by hand into the boats.  That is Will Stevens, the owner of Lycott, carrying the clipboard.

The airboat working near Middlebrook

Each boat had a crew of two.  Here the crewman prepares to pour another bag of herbicide into the hopper on the front of the boat.

The airboat coming back empty

The airboat has a Chevy V-8 with no muffler.  It makes an incredible amount of noise, but can really move across the water when it is not spreading.

The pontoon boat spreads the chemical in a liquid suspension

The dry chemical can also be dispersed mixed with water, with a device called an eductor.  This pumps a stream of lakewater through a venturi where it draws in the herbicide and the mixture is sprayed through two nozzles on the stern.  You can see the crewman replenishing the herbicide in the hopper.

The eductor at work

Here you can see the herbicide suspension spraying of the back of the boat.  Note the driver concentrating on his GPS.

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Our big day is over.   In 2 or 3 days the tops of the milfoil should begin showing distress.  In 4 to 6 weeks the milfoil should be visibly lying down.  We will conduct our first test of the concentration of the triclopyr 24 hours after the treatment, late on June 3rd.  The lake will reopen for swimming and recreation on Friday the 4th.  Now we wait.