Your weeds tell a story about your paddock.
Did you know that sheep sorrel is an indicator of acidic soil? Or that dandelion is an indicator of poor potassium levels? Your weeds could be telling you about your soil and your pasture health.
Weed invasions begin when our pastures become rundown either through extreme weather, overgrazing, fire, or farming activities. Our first reaction is to get out the boom and spray, spray, spray. But this is not the only option, and nor is it the sole solution. There is not a lot of point to spraying weeds out of a pasture and not replace them, as their progeny will simply grow back in their place and usually at double the force because spraying may have killed or suppressed some of the other desirable species as well.
Weeds will be a constant problem if your pastures can not compete with them. Competitive pastures need good fertility and a good soil pH which in turn will also lead to good soil structure and microbial health. Two of my favourite products for obtaining ultimate soil health are Calciprill, granulated aglime and the BioAg range of biologically-active phosphorus fertilisers.
Calciprill is a perfect liming product for use over established pastures, working much faster than aglime in this situation. And because it can be used in smaller amounts on a regular basis it allows your soil pH and soil health to be maintained at a constant level instead of falling back into an unhealthy weed ridden mess before liming takes place again.
BioAg Superb is a thoroughly mixed blend of BioAgPhos and gypsum that provides a biologically-active alternative to ordinary “super”. Unlike conventional acidified fertilisers, BioAg Superb provides an immediate and continuing source of plant-available phosphate, as well as calcium and sulphur needed for plant growth and healthy soils. Furthermore, it is not water soluble and therefore does not leach or become “locked up” in our typically acidic, high iron soils. Also available are PotPhos with potassium, MagPhos with magnesium, and BioAg also blend nutrients to suit exactly what your soil and pasture requires.
Inputs are only half of the story though, pastures also need to be managed well. Weeds need bare ground to establish, so having a perennial (more ground cover all year round) pasture that is grazed to encourage growth, but not overgrazed to allow bare ground will always be competitive and rarely have weed problems.
The answer is to take a more holistic view of what is happening and listen to what your pasture and weeds are telling you. The state of your pasture will give you some indications but a soil test will give you the answers you need.
Call Kathryn Pengilley for more details on these products or for a pasture health check and soil test.