31 July 1998

Root out that ragwort

WEST Midlands NFU is urging land occupiers, including highways authorities and local councils, to root out ragwort.

The plant is littering many roadside verges and is one of the most frequent causes of plant poisoning in livestock in this country.

Andrew Richards, NFU West Midlands senior technical adviser said: "Often called the yellow peril because of the way it rapidly spreads, ragwort is deadly if grazed when in flower or mown or dried along with the grass crop to make into hay or silage."

The union is asking all highways authorities, local councils, railway and water authorities to pull up the weed or spray it before the flowers turn into seed heads and stray onto farm land.

Tractor driver Robert Pugh, of contractors R.E. Smith from Lakenheath, Suffolk, rips out ragwort on a 12ha (30acre) field owned by the Ministry of Defence near Thetford. Contractor company owner Ray Smith said: "We clear this field of ragwort every year but this year the weed is particularly bad."