Ragwort Eradication by Spraying

Discussion in '2005 Archive of Posts' started by kent, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. kent

    kent New Member

    Has anyone successfully eradicated ragwort and/or rushes and/or buttercups by spraying?

    I have four hectares, and 50,000 to 100,000 ragwort plants. (Assessed by pulling and counting the plants on a few 10 x 10m marked out squares.) Clearly pulling is not an option for clearing this many plants.

    I could not use my tractor until June this year, because the land was saturated until then, but most of the land is dry enough at present. (Last year it became too wet again by September.)

    I would be very interested in anyone’s success rate with Solo, or other MCPA/2.4-D sprays, or other sprays, particularly if applied in the autumn. Were applications on two successive years sufficient?

    Has anyone tried to eradicate ragwort by frequent topping?
  2. kayjayhorses

    kayjayhorses New Member

    I got someone to come out to spray ours, 2 of the paddocks were very succesful this was done about 3 years ago and they are still clear, the other 2 paddocks we are having some growth but small enough amounts for me just to pull up.

    If you're doing it yourself you need to check which ones actually work on ragwort as not all killers do (but the manufacturer will confirm) plus you need to consider the resting period, the longer resting period the stronger the killer, some are 1 month and I think others are 3 months. I would say the longer rest period if you are able to allow it would be more successful.

    Sorry I can't help on the brands, I told the guy the result I wanted and he chose the killer.
  3. Clairabel

    Clairabel New Member

    Are you able to purchase the products or do you need a pesticide licence?

    I have been strimming since April to try and control the fern and buttercup problem. Topping doesn't work for ragwort there is good information on the BHS website.

    I wish someone in Dorset would come and spray my field :mad:
  4. Jessey

    Jessey Well-Known Member

    Spraying will kill ragwort but unfortunatly it is still just as poisonious when its dead. Spraying is a good way to stop the spread and to give you a head start on it but you will still need to remove the dead plants before the pasture is safe for stock.

    J x
  5. horsey1

    horsey1 New Member

    How long do you have to wait after spraying before you can put horses back on it
  6. Tnavas

    Tnavas New Member

    Keep spraying but you will still need to remove each plant by hand as there chemical structure changes when dead and makes them really tasty, but still very poisonous. They are easier to pull once the plant and root system has died.

    Work on your grazing in sections, and keep cutting off the flowers in the other sections until you are ready to deal with them. Main thing is to try to prevent any from seeding. A farmer once told me 1 years seeds - 7 years weeds! :(

    Sheep are good at clearing ragwort. It is interesting to see in New Zealand that areas with sheep grazing have no mature ragwort problems but in the dairy and horse areas there is heaps.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2005
  7. kent

    kent New Member


    Many thanks to all who have replied to my questions. Just a few more, and some observations.

    kayjayhorses - At what time of year did you spray? Spring?

    It seems to me that spraying in spring will catch all the rosettes, including those from the previous year’s now germinated seeds, and the rosettes from the year before, which are about to produce stems and flowers. However autumn spraying will mean that this year’s stems have already produced flowers and seeds, which will survive the spraying and will produce rosettes next spring. I assume this is why some manufacturers say that autumn spraying will only control ragwort, not eradicate it.

    Unfortunately it rains a lot in my part of the world, and my fields are still saturated, in August. They are on a 1 in 12 slope on the side of a valley. This year I could not move my (four-wheel drive) tractor until 10 June. By this time the ragwort was in flower. As an experiment I did spray by hand on 13 July about 200 plants with glyphosate, the total weedkiller. (As in Roundup) The rosettes died off. However the plants that had already produced flowers died, but still managed to produce seeds. Therefore when I spray the fields, in three weeks time with MCPA + 2,4-D, this year’s seeds will already be on their way to producing next year’s rosettes. Hopefully spraying in autumn next year will remove these rosettes in the year before they flower.

    Clairabel -

    If topping will not control the spread of ragwort, how are local authorities, road rail and waterway authorities and farmers expected to control ragwort? They can hardly go out and hand-pull several thousand plants. I am informed that if they are notified by DEFRA following a member of the public noticing the pretty yellow flowers, then they generally cut, rather than spray. I phoned my Local Authority to ask how they eradicate ragwort. Unfortunately they couldn’t find anyone who knew a thing about ragwort. And I bet you thought South Wales was a farming area!

    There are references in responsible articles (Rather than in most articles in the emotion dominated horsey world) to the fact that hand pulling does not in practice control ragwort. I hand pulled 300 ragwort plants a week ago, using a ragfork. Then I sat down and inspected the roots of all the pulled plants. In over 50% of them, parts of the roots had been left in the ground. Often the whole root had severed from the stem. Last year I marked out an area into 10 x 10m squares and systematically hand pulled the flowering ragwort plants. This year there are still a lot of rosettes. Next year I shall pull and count the plants to assess the effect of my labours.

    I am conscientious; it is my land, and my horses, and I have a scientific attitude. What happens when a squad of young children are press ganged into ragwort pulling? They might come back with bags full of yellow flowers, but what about the rosettes they missed, the roots they left in the ground, and the fact that they really wanted to get back to be with their ponies?

    I would bring my sprayer to Dorset, except that it needs a tractor, and here to Dorset at 25km/hr does not appeal.

    Jessey and horsey1 – I have just been to look at the plants I sprayed on 13 July, three weeks ago. They were dead, with seeds, and still standing. Silly me, I pulled them all up to avoid seed scatter. Now I shall never know when they would have disintegrated, but obviously more than three weeks is required. The BHS site says 14 days, I am told (I have looked, but cannot find the article). Some weedkiller manufacturers say four weeks.

    My ponies won’t touch ragwort, live or dead (The ragwort, not the ponies!) I have watched them for hours grazing around ragwort. I have offered them ragwort. They turn away. I suppose they somehow know about it, and recognise it, live or dead. Clever ponies, my ponies; that’s part of being the most beautiful ponies in the world.

    Tnavas – Ragwort is certainly easier to pull once dead, because the roots shrink; no need for a fork. However I shall not need to pull. In June I sowed an acre of fenced off bare mud next to the stables with grass seed. The ponies have sampled it, love it, and won’t move off it, so I can let them onto it while I spray the rest of the fields. They will reduce it to mud again, but this way I can spray all the rest this year and next, and it’s nice watching an acre of mud turn to luxurious sward. They have already sampled their winter hay, and enthusiastically approved of it, so I spray in three weeks, and if I time it right, on October 1 they may have devoured the new grass, but they get the hay. The slight snag is that I need 4 hours of no wind, followed by 24 hours of no rain, to spray.

    Finally, where does the idea come from that ragwort grows best on poached land. My 100,000 plants, growing mainly amongst other lush vegetation, have not kept to that script. The many bare patches, including the acre of mud, by comparison are ragwort free.

    Finally, finally, why am I doing all this, when my ponies don’t even eat ragwort anyway? Why am I spending £6,000 draining the fields too, just for a couple of nags? I think I have been put on the wrong planet. Will someone please look after them when the men in white coats come to take me away?
  8. Tnavas

    Tnavas New Member

    Because you are a responsible pony owner and each plant takes up valuable grazing space.

    Just had a look in my 'Hunters guide to grasses, Clovers and Weeds' Quote 'One of the most effective methods of getting rid of this noxious weed is to graze it in spring with sheep'. Worth a try!

    Ponies tend to avoid grazing it unless they are very hungry, and it becomes much more toxic in hay.

    Keep up the good work - you will be so proud of yourself in years to come.

    Answering your question about why ragwort is considered a plant of poached areas.
    'Hunters guide to grasses, Clovers and Weeds' quote - 'Normally found growing on neglected areas, such as road sides and land that has not been heavily stocked.'
  9. Zingy

    Zingy New Member

    Ragwort is also toxic to sheep though, so whereas they might do wonders for the state of your fields, it won't do much for their health :(

Share This Page