Effect of 10 years of organic dairy farming on weed populations

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To determine whether converting to organic farming increases weed problems, a trial at Massey University in New Zealand split a dairy farm in half, with one half farmed conventionally for 10 years and the other half farmed using organic principles. Weed populations in selected paddocks of each farmlet were studied for 8 years to determine how these populations would differ between the two systems. After 10 years, weed problems differed little between the two farmlets. Both still had broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius L.) and hairy buttercup (Ranunculus sardous Crantz) as their main weed species. Weeds were most noticeable in pastures in the year following regrassing activities for either farmlet, but being unable to use glyphosate during seed-bed preparation or use selective herbicides after sowing of new swards, meant weeds were sometimes worse in organic pastures after resowing than in conventional pastures. These weed problems were dealt with over the first few years after resowing by good grazing management, and ensuring pastures were dense once the annual species hairy buttercup had flowered and died, thus minimising any further establishment. Re- sults from the trial suggest that weeds need not be an impediment to organic dairying.
Proceedings of the 18th Australasian Weeds Conference, 2012, pp. 159 - 162 (4)