While many livestock farmers are looking to minimise costs where at all possible, spraying for grassland weeds can help to reduce feed costs.
Cash-strapped livestock farmers should still be spraying grassland weeds this spring urges Dow AgroSciences grassland specialist Brent Gibbon, saying the savings made by having additional silage will outweigh the cost of treatment.
With many farmers tightening their cost control at the moment, Mr Gibbon says by maximising the amount of grass grown and feeding it to cows is the best way to counter poor financial returns, buying in less feed.
He says: “Perennial weeds like docks grow where grass should be growing. Having 20 docks in an area 7m x 5m, means a 20 per cent infestation and therefore 20 per cent less grass.
“Assuming 11 tonne dry matter (DM) per ha of grass is grown, which is a conservative estimate for silage leys, a loss of 2.2t of grass DM/ha will be incurred. This is a lot of silage, worth £88 at £40/t DM. The cost of a good translocated spray and using a contractor is around £65/ha, so it is also financially worthwhile.”
He also noted the late cold spring has reduced the window for spraying herbicide onto docks in silage ground, but the warmer days mean weeds are now in a good state for treating grazing areas.
“Look out for the grazing interval of products, which is the time animals need to stay out of fields after spraying,” said Mr. Gibbon.
“Where docks are a problem in silage, treatments carried out around two weeks after first cut will catch the weeds with fresh green leaves, when at a similar growth stage. There will also not be much grass growth around the weeds after first cut, so it is easier to hit the target plants when spraying, meaning less water may be needed."