Assessing weed burdens early puts livestock farmers more in control of getting rid of main problem weeds, according to Dow AgroSciences grassland agronomist Vaugn Stansfield. 

Start looking for early signs of the main problem weeds such as docks, thistles and nettles and then plan a control strategy for the season, he advises. “Pick out the key weed that is your biggest problem and make that one your priority to control at the correct time. But don’t spray too early.”

By being flexible, you may be able to leave spraying for a few days to include another weed, but factor in product choice, timing and water volume, Mr Stansfield warns.

“If you have only one major weed to control, then select a product to control that weed. But if you are trying to control two or more, then choosing a broad-spectrum herbicide will give a better coverage of docks, thistles, nettles as well as buttercups and dandelions.”

Timing is crucial for optimum results and spraying should take place when weeds are actively growing and at the rosette stage. For docks and thistles this should be up to 25cm high or wide (the size of a dinner plate) and for nettles 30cm. For buttercups and dandelions, spray before flowering.

“Getting rid of weeds allows grass to grow unhindered by weeds and produce quality, palatable silage and better grazing,” adds Mr Stansfield.