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Kildare farmer maximises grass utilisation through effective weed control programme

Shane O’Loughlin has a herd of 180 dairy cows in Monastervin, Co. Kildare. He is a progressive farmer with ambitious plans and knows the importance of maximising grass utilisation from grazing and silage ground.

Weed Control in Silage Ground

Shane explains that, “we had a high infestation of docks, ragworth and chic weed in both silage and grazing ground over the past few years. We see grass as a very important asset on the farm and it was essential we addressed this problem as we have ambitious expansion plans and need to maximise grassland utilisation. I now have a weed control programme in place to ensure we eradicate these problem weeds.”

Shane applied Doxstar- Pro four weeks before cutting silage in order to allow the docks to fully disappear from the crop and enable the product to fully translocate down to kill out the root. The dock root can be up to 1m long. Shane states: “Within a couple of days, you can see the powerful effect of the docks dying away. It was amazing to see the difference on ground where we applied DoxstarPro and the ones which were not sprayed. There are virtually no docks visible in the area which was treated”

“Last year our silage contractor told me that for every ten loads of silage that he cut there was one load of docks. I think our silage contractor will get a bit of a shock when he cuts the silage next week and sees how clean the fields are. I expect the DMD of the silage to be up from 70 DMD to 75 DMD as a result. As we are a liquid milk herd and run a low input system here, it’s very important to have good quality silage.”

Glanbia Agribusiness manager Paddy Dempsey explains: “DoxstarPro was applied to silage swards when the docks were actively growing and were eight to 10 inches high or across. We went with the recommended split application rate of one litre per hectare in 300 litres water/ha to ensure best results. The plan will be to return later in the year or within 12 months if there is any regrowth with the second split as this then helps to totally kill out the dock roots.

Using high water rates is critical to successful weed control. DoxstarPro is a fast-acting herbicide, which is extremely safe to grass. It results in higher quality silage as the inclusion of docks effect the fermentation process.”

Weed control in grazing paddocks

When spraying on grazing paddocks, timing is essential and currently the O’Loughlins have a 21-day grazing rotation. Cows are going into covers of 1,400 kgs DM/Ha and clean outs are very good. After the cows move from the paddock its essential to spray at the correct dock growth stage and then wait seven days before the cows can access the paddock again.

Grazing paddocks were sprayed with Forefront T, which is specifically designed for grazing ground only. Shane states: “I was concerned before I sprayed as the docks had grown so big and had taken up so much space. However, they were still at a good stage – ie before the seed head or stem had appeared. But it really surprised me how fast it killed off the docks and how the grass filled in the bare patches.”

First Published 23 May 2017

Tagged with: All Beef Dairy Other animals Tillage

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