Ragwort reminder

If you haven’t already done it, then the deadline is fast approaching this week for spraying the noxious weed, ragwort. Late autumn (mid September – mid November) or early spring (February – mid March) are the recommended periods for spraying ragwort, with an appropriate herbicide, on lands destined for grazing or conservation for hay or silage.  Ragwort plants become more palatable after spraying and consequently livestock must be kept off treated fields and fodder conservation delayed until all plants are dead and sufficiently rotted down, which is why late autumn or early spring are ideal spraying periods.  A new public awareness campaign is directed at landowners and local authorities for the control of weeds designated as noxious. Weeds, which must be controlled in pastureland under the Noxious Weeds Act, 1936 are ragwort, thistle and dock. Ragwort is deemed noxious under the Act as it is poisonous to animals when grazed or when it is consumed in hay or silage. The fact that ragwort is poisonous to animals also makes it an animal welfare issue and financial loss from animal deaths and restricted growth also occurs. Furthermore, where noxious weeds are not controlled, their seeds spread to adjoining lands, thereby causing further infestation, to the annoyance of neighbours. The Act provides for penalties for convicted offenders and control of noxious weeds is now a cross-compliance requirement for Single Farm Payment under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition. Failure to comply with this condition may result in a reduction in the Single Farm Payment. Farmers, developers and those whose lands contain ragwort should seek advice on control methods from their local Teagasc advisor or, alternatively, consult the Teagasc fact sheet on ragwort at www.teagasc.ie