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Maximise grass utilisation through effective weed control programme

Tomás Mahony has a herd of 134 dairy cows in the Old Parish, Gaeltacht, near Dungarvan, Co Waterford. He is a progressive farmer and knows the importance of maximising grass utilisation from grazing and silage ground.

Dock control in silage ground

Tomás explains: “We had a high infestation of docks in both silage and grazing ground recently. We see silage as a very important asset on the farm and it was essential we addressed this problem. I estimated that approximately 30% of the paddocks were taken up with docks and I was thinking of reseeding. But after conducting some research I took the advice to try DoxstarPro.”

A contractor 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. Tomás states: “Within a couple of days, you can see the powerful effect of the docks dying away. It was amazing to see the difference in the paddocks where we applied DoxstarPro and the ones which were not sprayed.

There are virtually no docks visible in the area which was treated with DoxstarPro. Initial test results back from our silage samples show that the first cut is excellent quality.”

Glanbia Agribusiness manager Ross Kelly 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

Grazing paddocks were sprayed with Forefront T, which is specifically designed for grazing ground only. Tomás 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 – i.e. 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. When spraying on grazing paddocks, timing is essential as, currently, we have an 18-day grazing rotation and the spraying window is tight.

After the cows move from the paddock, you need to spray at the correct dock growth stage and then wait seven days before the cows can access the paddock again.”

Future plans

Tomás concludes: “We have ambitious plans for the farm over the coming years and hope to build the herd size further. We are moving more towards a Jersey-type cow, which will be more suitable to our heavier land and will enable us to get out to grass earlier in the season. We want to get as much grass as possible into the cows. Reseeding and weed control will play a vital role.”

First Published 21th June 2016

Tagged with: Dairy Beef Tillage Other animals

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