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Weeds on horse properties are a concern because some species are toxic to horses, such as Salvation Jane. Weeds growing in pastures reduce the amount horses can graze as they take the place of desirable, edible pasture plants. Weeds also do environmental harm if they grow in areas of native vegetation (i.e. choke out native species).
Abundant weeds usually indicate that pasture quality is poor, and may also be an indicator of low soil fertility or acid soil. Weedy pastures tend to provide poor soil cover particularly during summer/autumn. Also, weed-infested paddocks will produce poor quality hay containing weed seeds. In the Mt Lofty Ranges for example, weeds which compete with desirable pasture plants include dock, sorrel, wireweed and capeweed.
If there are any proclaimed (declared) weeds on the property, then these must be controlled according to legislation (see Proclaimed Pest Plants).
Where possible, a range of methods should be used to control weeds (e.g. good weed hygiene on the property, good grazing management, re-seeding pastures) rather than just a single method (such as relying on chemical). An integrated weed control program is an important aspect of property management, and is one of the components of a property management plan.
Steps to achieve best practice
Suggested steps are:-
Regularly inspect the property for weeds and identify which weeds are present. You can get assistance and advice on weed identification and control from rural consultants and advisers, and from your Natural Resources Management Board.
Carry out weed control programs for any problem weeds, using methods that are recommended for your area (especially proclaimed weeds). You can find this out from your Natural Resources Management Board, rural advisers or consultants. Consider using selective weed sprays in pastures (if required).
Ensure there is good weed hygiene on the property (see Preventing weeds entering or leaving the property).
Manage pastures well (see Pasture Composition). Good quality pastures that have mostly desirable pasture plants will tend to out-compete with most weeds.
Each year, review your weed control program. Each season, monitor weeds present and numbers of weeds in pasture paddocks. Look at how successful or otherwise your weed control has been, and modify the program accordingly.
An active pasture weed control program is in place, which is regularly monitored and reviewed.
Weeds on horse properties are a concern because some species, such as Salvation Jane and Cape Tulip (above), are toxic to horses.
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