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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 8, 2002
    Posts
    4,930

    Default Pasture questions, grow it or mow it? Does weed killer contaminate well water??

    Ok, so I'm rehabbing a small pasture that has a variety of different grasses in it, from Bermuda to who knows what. The Bermuda is close to the ground, but some of the other grass is getting quite tall, while I'm reseeding with some Rye. First question: Should I mow it down or let it grow? Some have said that it will "go to seed" and I should mow it, but recently I've seen some pastures where folks just let it grow tall until they put horses in it. What should I do? Second question: I have a few different weeds growing, one of which is that nasty stinging nettle and so I was spraying Round-up. Well, ranch hands came over and asked me not to use that because it pollutes the water they drink from the well. Ooops, my bad. So, other than picking the weeds by hand (my achin' back!) what can I do to kill the weeds?? TIA!
    Last edited by Dune; Oct. 6, 2009 at 11:30 AM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
    Location
    Deep South
    Posts
    14,508

    Default

    You can mow and still leave the grass pretty tall. It is good to let the grass go to seed and then mow it. If you put horses on a pasture with tall seed heads on the grass they tend to have eye problems and sticky seeds in their manes etc. I doubt that a weed killer would pollute a well unless it runs in to it. I would think it would all be filtered out by the earth, depending on the depth of the well. There are pasture weed killers that do not kill grass.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2000
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,818

    Default

    Mowing is always better than letting grass go to seed. Most grasses spread better via the root systems and very little of the seed actually reaches soil in order to take root.

    Mowing will also take care of some weeds, particularly if you mow before the weeds go to seed.

    The bad news is that Carolina Horsenettle is very tough to kill. Even pulling it by hand is not totally effective, since the root will regenerate the plant. I have been battling nettle for several years now and have found that spraying with a herbicide specifically targetting nettle is the only way to make progress. And you have to spray three years in a row in order to really be successful ... and have your neighbors spray if their property is infested. There are several combinations recommended, but all require a license to use .... do an internet search on horsenettle and see what might work for you.

    *star*
    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 22, 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,136

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ShotenStar View Post
    Mowing will also take care of some weeds, particularly if you mow before the weeds go to seed.
    True. Most plants (besides grass) will not live if mowed regularly.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2005
    Location
    Elmwood, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,369

    Default

    Check with your county extension folks about what organic farmers
    are using in your area to control nettle. You might be able to kill it
    with a very strong vinegar (not the grocery store version but a
    concentrated acedic acid about 10X stronger). As I understand
    Roundup breaks down after about 24 hours but the farm workers
    are still going to be concerned even if there is no danger to them.
    If you tell them you are using vinegar or some other less worrisome
    sounding chemical, they will be happier and less likely to leave the
    job suddenly.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 22, 2008
    Location
    Outside Ocala FL - Horse Capital of the World
    Posts
    6,190

    Default

    When I moved to my farm 5 years ago, the 9 acres of pasture were about 50% weeds. I mow all the time, with the blades up at 3.5 inches, and the weeds are losing the war. And leaving the grass that tall leaves plenty for the horses to graze. Also, I only mow about 2 acres per session, so it is at various lenghts throughout the pasture, by the time I finish the last section, the first section is ready to mow again.

    The only thing I have to do manual battle with is prickly pear cactus, those I have to dig up and dispose of, since mowing them only makes more.

    I do not use any herbicides, other than weed and grass killer along the fencelines.
    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 5, 2009
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    136

    Default

    Goats will eat most weeds before they eat the grass. I got portable electric netting with posts from Premier1 for about $100 hooked up to a solar charger that will keep all but my one "Evil Goat" in.
    By using goats for one year I now have a nice stand of grass on a couple of areas that were previously thick weeds.
    If you rotationally graze a flerd (flock + herd) all of the forage is utilized very nicely.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003
    Location
    KY, USA
    Posts
    1,926

    Default

    Mow fairly short (horses won't generally eat tall grass anyway, they think it's the "roughs"), frequently (weekly would be awesome but I'm lucky if I do it monthly), definitely before either grass or weeds go to seed. Spot treat (e.g., hand sprayer) specific plants of concern - there's no way the amount of Roundup you put on one plant will ever see ground water. Reseed in the fall with desirable grass strains for your area (varies by location - see your local ag people), highly recommend it be drilled for maximum germination. Fertilize in the fall (again, good to use ag people by sampling and getting fertilizer recommendation).



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2003
    Posts
    2,255

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin@DHH View Post
    but the farm workers
    are still going to be concerned even if there is no danger to them.
    If you tell them you are using vinegar or some other less worrisome
    sounding chemical, they will be happier and less likely to leave the
    job suddenly.


    I have a big problem with this



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 8, 2002
    Posts
    4,930

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lambie Boat View Post


    I have a big problem with this
    I don't know what you mean by this, I don't think she was saying to lie about it, just switching to something that would make them more comfortable. I still have a hard time believing that a small amount of Round-up is that big of a deal. I mean think of all the flyspray, medicine, urine/manure that is on the ground in much higher quantities. Maybe I should start another thread on weedkiller and well water contamination???



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2005
    Location
    Elmwood, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,369

    Default

    What I meant about telling ranch hands you are using vinegar is
    to let them be comfortable with the product used. I don't think
    these ranch hands understand the difference between Roundup
    and Atrizine; they just don't want to see any chemicals sprayed
    on the fields because they think the water will be polluted. If
    the OP can show them that the item she is using is something
    they have no fear about (such as vinegar), they are not likely
    to be worried about the well water. Even if someone explains
    to the ranch hands that Roundup is safe, they are not likely to
    believe it and won't be happy to see it in use. Better to choose
    something they are not uncomfortable about.

    OP another possible approach might be to use flame weed killing
    on those thistles.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin



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