July 18, 2018

Why are different varieties of forbs and clovers turning up in the pasture?

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When you see different varieties of pasture forbs and clovers turn up in your pasture and after re-grassing with seeds that did not include herbs and clovers do you ever wonder why?

Or when you see different varieties of “weeds” turn up in your pasture do you ever wonder why?

Charles Walters. the doyen of agricultural journalists, made the observation that “weeds are an index of the characteristics of their soil.”

To me it looks like most farmers believe that there must not have been enough spray when the weeds show up; as that appears to be the default response when weeds appear!.

What most people do not understand is that there can be up to 2000 seeds per square meter in the top 150 mm of soil!

Spraying out with Roundup does NOT kill seeds!

And every one of those seeds are just waiting for the right conditions that start their germination!

Example; Winter has been incredibly wet, followed by a cool damp spell in the spring. The cows trampled/pugged areas of the farm and all of a sudden those areas are covered in willow weed.

The cause of that certainly wasn’t enough spray – it’s actually not enough oxygen in the soil. Willow weed is an anaerobic plant. A big word, which just means happy to grow in soil without oxygen!

Have you ever noticed the different weeds that come after very wet seasons. They usually have something in common – a pungent smell which comes from growing in anaerobic conditions.

Spraying the weed doesn’t fix the problem, it only hides the symptom – temporarily.

To get to the source is to rectify the soil into a highly biological system that creates an aerobic environment that sustains healthy pasture and crop production. And:

You may be very surprised at what happens in your pasture after that, because the conditions will have changed to what suits higher nutrition pastures suitable for grazing animals.

So when any new plant turns up in your paddocks, orchards or vineyards, just take a little time to contemplate how the conditions came about for that plant to appear.

Many years ago I identified a fungal species growing on the roots of ragwort. After soil testing the soil under the ragwort and separately testing the rest of the paddock, I realised that the interaction between the fungi and the ragwort increased biological activity and increased available nutrient by 40% under the ragwort only.

I thought this was great and brewed up the fungi in liquid fish and spread it over the farm thinking the fungi would just do its magic. What I didn’t think of was that for this particular fungi to proliferate it needed a ragwort plant.

Our farm went from a reasonably weed free farm to germinating so many ragwort seeds that the farm looked like Van Gogh’s Summer Flowers!

I had created the perfect storm, the soil had a fair way to go and ragwort fitted the bill.

I had to laugh at myself. We didn’t spray. We just mulched and grazed accordingly and within a couple of years we didn’t have Van Gogh’s Summer Flowers any longer.

Have some thought for what your activities create on your own Land!

For a free introductory call, call Ewan “creates his own environment” Campbell.

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