Eight Tips to Prevent Weeds in Pastures

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

1.     Grow a healthy forage sod. Up to 95 percent of your weed control can come from a thick, vigorous sod that prevents weed establishment and discourages soil erosion. Soil test, fertilize, clip, aerate and irrigate pastures, if possible. Manage livestock grazing and keep animals off wet pastures.

2.     Seed areas around troughs, salt blocks, barnyards, and roadsides. Open soil is an open invitation to weeds. New weeds often show up in these places. Consider seeding these areas annually.

3.     Clean equipment. Brush or hose down equipment from weed-infested pastures before entering new pastures. Monitor cleaning areas for new weeds.

4.     Control weed seeds spread by floods. Weed seeds can float on water. Install seed screens on outlet pipes and control weeds near irrigation ditches.

5.     Quarantine animals new to property or pastures. Animals can deposit weed seeds with their manure and start new infestations. If animals have been grazing a weed-infested pasture, keep livestock in the barnyard for a few days before moving them to a clean pasture. Before spreading manure, compost it to kill weed seeds.

6.     Buy weed-free seed. A pound of purchased seed can contain 400 weed seeds. If you ask to see the detailed seed label (and not just the one on the bag), it will list the weeds present by species. This way, you can “select” weed seeds already on your land and avoid planting seeds of something new.

7.     Buy weed-free hay. Grow your own hay, inspect grass stands prior to harvest, buy high quality hay, or buy from a reliable source. By following these practices, you will bring less weed-contaminated hay to your property.

8.     Cooperate with neighbors in controlling weeds. A neighboring field of weeds gone to seed can invade your property. Or your weed spray may drift and damage the fruit trees on your neighbor’s property. Their problem is your problem and vice versa. 

- From Summer 2016 Nexus