I live on a farm and from time to time I have to make a decision about pasture-fields. I have 4 fields with two fields been used for hay and other two fields are slowly turning into hay fields. I don’t farm myself and I don’t have farming equipment. I have farmers who come and work on my fields for exchange of hay. My two currently used hay- fields are in a very bad shape. One field has been turned into a meadow field (which is great but I need hay) and another field is turning into a meadow field.
Usually, hay fields consist of grasses such as timothy and alpha-alpha. During dry summers grass may die-out and then weeds take place instead. If such situation is not properly controlled then hay field is turning into weed-field.
There are many ways to control weeds:
1) Cultivating the area and then reseeding
2) Applying herbicides to the area and then reseeding
3) Mechanical removing
Many farmers are following the combination of the 1 and 2. Farmers have to do things at the fast pace and mechanical removal is not an option.
My farmer says that the best would be applying herbicides because cultivating alone would not help and weeds would come back. It makes sense.
But what happens with the wild life during times of weed-control?
Frogs and other small animals and most insects including butterflies will be killed at cultivating. I was watching it myself when I was sitting in the tractor and watching frogs trying to run away unsuccessfully. It is not difficult to imagine what happens to ants and other insects.
Let’s see what herbicides can offer. I started goggling and this is what I found:
“Improper application resulting in the herbicide coming into direct contact with people or wildlife, inhalation of aerial sprays, or food consumption prior to the labeled pre-harvest interval.”
H-m-m. Who can guarantee that application will be proper?
“Herbicide manufacturers have at times made false or misleading claims about the safety of their products.” Sounds really scary. Also herbicides can cause the following:
-long-term problems, such as contributing to Parkinson’s disease
-a range of health effects ranging from skin rashes to death
-small rise in cancer risk after exposure to herbicides
-Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells
Please, read more in details here.
On the top of everything applying herbicides does not guarantee that weeds will be killed.
Please download this article in pdf.and read.
This article says that “without proper use of mechanical control methods and good cultural practices, herbicide use will not be beneficial”.
Good cultural practices means to cut grass on proper time and apply manure.
I allowed to apply herbicides few years ago. I did not care about these things back then. Why do I care about it this time? Because now I keep bees. Here is very sad article about what happened to bees when herbicides were applied at the neighboring field.
Are you convinced that there are no “good” herbicides? Not for humans and not for wild life and not for bees. If you have heard that bees in North America are dying-out rapidly then please sign the petition here (even if you are not Canadian :). I’m sure similar petitions are circulating in the USA as well.
So, what did I decide to do with my fields? I decided to pull them mechanically using my hands.
It took me a week to do one field. I spent 2 hours daily (14 hours in total) for small field.
Area before weeding
Area after weeding
Bare spots will be reseeded with timothy grass
Final pile is waiting to be burned
We have a proverb in Russian something like “eyes are scared but hands are working” (глаза боятся а руки делают).
I wonder who else did something like this in last years in Canada or USA?