Why do you spray weeds in pasture -- is it to kill plants that are poor forage, or is it just force of habit and to make the pasture look nicer? That's the question Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska agronomy professor, poses this week at beef.unl.edu/.

In his discussion, he lists these four factors for consideration:

  • For pasture to be profitable, it must have a high management input but a controlled dollar input. Spraying costs money-money we might save with better management.
  • Livestock eat many plants we call weeds. When they do, these plants are no longer weeds. In fact, many weeds can be good feed if grazed while young and tender.
  • Unpalatable weeds usually become established in pastures after grass is weakened by severe grazing, and they thrive when grazing management fails to encourage vigorous grass re-growth.
  • Finally, unless pasture and livestock are managed to benefit both plants and animals, the weeds will be back despite your spraying.
So why spray pastures? If you graze properly but you wish to speed up the process of replacing uneaten weeds with vigorous grass, that's a very good reason. Otherwise, spraying may be simply cosmetic and a waste of money, he says.
-- Joe Roybal