Perennial Weeds and Planned Grazing

Perennial Weeds and Planned Grazing

If we get our grazing practices right, we know that we can have succession of species towards more stable plant communities and most likely more desirable species for our production systems.  So, if there is a season where we have annual weeds, we could use herbicides or mechanical means to control, or we may choose to leave the ground covered with that plant, create conditions favorable to higher succession plants and hang in there hoping that our complex and dynamic ecosystem is being driven in the right direction.  Following seasons will likely then see the change to a different species – and possibly a more desirable one.  This is because the presence of that annual weed creates changes in the micro-environment around it, which then allows other species to establish that may not have been possible before these micro-environment changes occurred.


What about perennial weeds though?  Perennial weeds may be anything from smaller plants like St Johns Wort, to bushes and blackberries and invasive pine.

If perennial plants are able to germinate and establish in one season, unless we actively address their presence – it is likely that they will then persist for many years.  [private]Succession may eventually occur past these perennial weeds/plants, but it could be a very long time and may not be in the time frame that is workable for our production systems.  ‘Hanging in there’ may not be an option if we are to have profitable farm systems.

Having complex and stable pastures and grasslands with diverse, productive perennial grasses, trees and great ground cover, it is likely we will avoid the proliferation of perennial weeds.  For degraded systems however, we have to reach this point before we have the protection of the complex system against perennial weeds.

A small note about ‘weeds’ before I continue.  What we consider to be a weed is often a plant that comes in when the conditions for its proliferation are provided, and when present to the point of it being the majority, animals do not thrive feeding on it.  Such a plant may be beneficial diversity amongst a complex plant community, but when proliferating, is undesirable for farm production.  

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