Yellow-ragwort-and-clover(c) REX/Mike Walker

As spring approaches, tackling grassland weeds early, at establishment of a new grass ley, will help improve sward palatability, productivity and reduce costs.

High levels of weeds in grass swards not only reduce pasture’s nutritional value, but restrict grazing areas, says Mark Ballingall from SRUC. Most weeds reduce the nutrition of the sward and provide excessive competition for valuable grasses, particularly in newly sown leys.

See also: Control docks in grassland now to improve quality and yield

Nettles, thistles and ragwort discourage grazing and can make hay and silage unpalatable. A number of weeds are listed in the Injurious Weeds Act: common ragwort, spear thistle, creeping or field thistle, broad-leaved and curled dock. These weeds require management to prevent their spread. Poisonous weeds must also be a priority.

You can find out more about controlling grassland weeds, including what products can be used and how to use them, by completing the Grassland Weed Control course. You can also earn CPD Basis points by completing the short test.