17 May 2002

Herb minerals key component

MINERAL rich herbs are now key components of seeds mixtures used on swards used by IGERs organic dairy herd at Trawsgoed.

Heather MacCalman told visitors that chicory, plantain, yarrow and burnet made up 4% of a typical mixture for pastures used by cows receiving little bought concentrate. Work on the benefit of herbs was continuing as part of an evaluation of different seeds mixtures.

But Mrs MacCalman admitted that weed control was not easy without herbicides. Docks were a particular problem. Drilling grass and clover seed into barley shortly after emergence suppressed docks for a few years, but they reappeared.

Cutting them just before they seeded, when nutrient reserves had been used up, could weaken them as could grazing dock seedlings hard with sheep. But the best way was to maintain a dense sward, she added. Red clover competed well against weeds, including docks, and in combination with Italian ryegrass could yield 12t/ha (4.8t/acre) of silage dry matter a year. &#42