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Control weeds in grazing pastures before they become a problem

Gorgeous grassland will not only look good, but produce a nutritious crop of grass for grazing horses and ponies. Find out how to best managed your grazing with this advice from the experts at Logic.

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Despite a cold and very wet spring, growth is well underway now with the ground temperature rising and moisture and nutrition levels allowing vegetation of all types to flourish. While grass has the potential to be a cheap source of quality feed for horses and ponies, it has to be well managed. When weeds are present in significant numbers they reduce the productivity of grass swards as they compete for light and nutrients.

The most effective method of controlling established grassland weeds is spraying with a selective herbicide - but remember all spraying must now be done only by contractors or individuals who hold the relevant qualification. The best results from spraying are achieved when the weeds have a large proportion of leaf and are actively growing. Until mid to late May most weed species will be in a vegetative state of growth and suitable for spraying, provided there are good growing conditions.
Once weeds develop flower heads spraying is less effective and it is advisable to top them first and then spray the leafy re-growth.
Docks are the most common weed as they thrive under conditions of above average soil fertility. There is a wide range of herbicides available for controlling docks and these have different levels of efficiency and cost. Some will reduce the presence of clover in the sward unless spot spraying is carried out. However there are a number of herbicides that can be used which will save clover, so advice from your agricultural dealer is well advised.
Creeping thistle and spear thistle are the two most common thistle species in grassland. Creeping thistle has an extensive underground root system and is difficult to control with a single treatment, Regular topping can be effective in weakening the plant before chemical treatment.
Nettles tend to grow in clumps in grazing fields or around fences and are easily controlled by spot spraying.
Buttercups and dandelions are best sprayed after the flower heads have been removed by topping. Although ragwort is a poisonous weed it is seldom eaten by grazing livestock when growing. Topping or spraying makes ragwort more palatable and stock should therefore be kept out of treated fields until the plants have decayed or have been removed.
Chickweed has always been a threat to the establishment of late autumn reseeds but in recent years it has become more common in established grassland. This problem can normally be controlled with a suitable clover safe chemical.

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The application of these chemicals is very important as they are expensive and require even and accurate distribution to achieve the best results. If you have the correct qualifications and choose to do the work yourself, Logic can offer a wide range of sprayers to suit the size of area and host vehicle. This will allow you to make the most of opportunities when they arise, like the correct stage of growth in the target plant and perfect weather to get the best results.

Topping too can play an important part in the control of some weeds, as well as preventing grass from going to seed and Logic’s choice of mowers will help with this. Topping throughout the growing season is an undervalued task, as it not only prevents grass from going ‘stemmy’ and coarse, but it helps to stop upright weeds from flowering and therefore reduces the development these type of weeds. Keeping grass short and nutritious also helps with collection of droppings, especially when using a Logic Sweeper Collector which will not only pick up muck but also the topped grass, removing it from the pasture to keep the grazing fresh and so much tidier.  

To sum up, weed control is an essential requirement for good grassland management. Select an appropriate herbicide for the weed problem bearing in mind you may wish to save any clover. Spray at the correct stage of growth under suitable weather conditions following the manufacturer’s recommendations.