- Grow a healthy forage sod. Up to 95% of weed control can come from a thick, vigorous sod that prevents weed establishment and discourages soil erosion. Soil test, fertilize, clip, aerate and, if possible, irrigate pastures. Manage livestock grazing by not allowing over-grazing and keep animals off wet fields.
- 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, so keep an eye out for bare patches and seed these areas at least annually.
- Clean your equipment to prevent spreading weeds. Brush or hose down equipment from weed-infested pastures before entering new pastures. Monitor your cleaning areas for new weeds.
- Control weeds spread by flooding. Weed seeds can float on water, so install seed screens on outlet pipes and control weeds near irrigation ditches.
- Quarantine animals new to property or pastures. Animals can deposit weed seeds with their manure and start new infestations. If animals have been grazing in a weed-infested pasture, keep livestock in the barnyard for a few days before moving them to a clean pasture. Be sure to thoroughly compost the manure before spreading it to ensure weed seeds have been killed.
- Buy weed-free seed. A pound of purchased seed can contain hundreds of weed seeds. Ask to see the detailed seed label from your supplier, not just the label that is on the bag. This detailed label will least the weeds present by species. This way you can select weed seeds already on your land and avoid introducing new ones.
- 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.
- Cooperate with neighbors in controlling weeds. A neighboring field of weeds gone to seed can invade your property. Additionally your weed spray may drift and damage the fruit trees on your neighbor's property. Their problem is your problem and vice versa.
The additional moisture and more moderate temperatures offered by spring and fall make them the optimal seasons for seeding your pastures. In addition, be conscientious about weed management to maximize your fields' productivity.
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