Weeds in pasture

Asked September 16, 2019, 2:19 PM EDT

We have a small pasture - about 1.5 acres. Three horses: aged Arabian mare, very dainty; older retired QH mare and an 8 yr. old, lame QH mare- very robust at 1,100 #. Hay is the main food. We buy good hay from the same person who supplies ISU's horse barn. The pasture is an amenity for the old horses to stretch, sleep and graze a little. We have no tractor. We hire a mower twice a year. We hand dig chickory, ragweed, and annual asters. Since roadside mowing is now minimized, Yellow and Green Foxtail that grows lavishly in the neighbor's hay field now covers the highway ROW and on his unmanaged land. The Foxtail is now in our pasture. I've spot sprayed with Grassout. Instead of killing the foxtail, it acted like a Plant Growth Regulator and caused early seed set on 3" high stems. I would still like to keep the pasture open for the horses to use. When we are in drought conditions, we do not allow any access. Frankly, the horses prefer to stay in their barn, on the rubber mats, under the cross breeze of the two large fans as they eat Wade Feurings great hay. Now that the white sweet clover, red clover other grasses (timothy, brome, fescues, annual rye and some Big Bluestem and Side Oats from the prairie are growing post-rainfall, we allow horses to access the pasture for about 2 hours a day. Is there a better method for controlling Foxtail? Must we kill every area where it exists with glyphosate? We also find that having our other neighbor apply the very well composted manure holds soil moisture, and helps the grasses flourish. We are wondering if we have a very deep layer of compost placed over the now very short plant growth regulator impacted Foxtail will suppress/smoother it? We can then just plant a mix of pasture grasses and prairie seed right into the compost. What is the earliest time that I could have the compost put on the pasture? We usually wait until November, but ... if we could get the Foxtail covered, I could sow seeds now and they would have a good start. I'd also like to top dress some of the other areas with compost. In times of unstable weather, having that compost is even more critical than ever. The horses are well-loved by us, but are also visited by two Hospice Nurses who just enjoy brushing them; local kids who have parents in the military and ... some of my students who experience home sickness and need some pet therapy. Many people believe that dogs are the natural empathic experts. Horses are also very astute in identifying which people need attention. We are getting rather old to keep up this regime, but... it makes it worthwhile because on the grander scheme of community - many people benefit from these good, big friends. Thanks, Danielle Wirth

Boone County Iowa

1 Response

Hello. The reply from the weed specialist, Bob Hartzler, at ISU is listed below.

There aren’t any herbicides registered for controlling grasses in pastures, although I suppose you could spot treat with Roundup. Properly timed mowing could reduce seed production, but foxtails are fairly tolerant of mowing. Best bet is taking step to enhance the competitiveness of the forage species

Thus enhancing the grass growth on the pasture and mowing before the foxtail heads with seeds would be the best choice.