Weeds and their value.

Grasser: But, there’s another element, and what I do is I look for the vigour of the plant. Now, a lot of these plants have been struggling. The plantain there, the ribweed – are you familiar with that?

Woman: Yep.

Grasser: Okay, that’s a good plant to have. It’s actually known as a calcium accumulator, so a lot of dairy farms are now buying that in as a mix on an upright plant that they’ve put some breeding into. So they’re getting chicory and plantain and your standard ryegrasses and clovers and stuff and making a mix up out of that. So, handy to know that – calcium accumulator, dairy farm, makes sense.

Man: I’m happy to sell it to you.

Grasser: I’ve actually been on horse properties where people have come along and said, “I’ve got flatweed everywhere! Look at that. I’ve just sprayed that yesterday,” and went, “It’s not flatweed. It’s plantain, very valuable. Your horses would have loved it, especially if they are lactating.
Anyway, yeah, too late now”.

So what I look for is the vigour of the plant. I’m looking at these and thinking, well, it’s actually struggling. The capeweed has actually not got a big leaf on it. Yeah, and then you’ve got another patch that’s actually looking a bit better. So, start reading what’s taking place there. You can look behind you over there; you can see a couple of bits of capeweed are looking quite good – the area that we walked across there. But then that tells me, hey, the roots aren’t able to get down there, or there’s something in the soil that the plants don’t really like. So they’re not going to be vigorous and growing on, so conditions aren’t right for them. Just because you’ve got a weed there doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be an infestation because it’s really not doing too well.

One feature of the capeweed plant that’s really interesting to know and useful is – I think I said this morning, I did cut flowers some years ago, back at [INAUDIBLE] when I first got into the farming side of things sort of seriously, semi-seriously. And one of the things I discovered there was some seeds of flowers require sunlight on them to germinate. They need that light to allow the germination to take place. Capeweed is in that category. So, you’ll find that wherever you’ve got bare spots on the ground, capeweed will come up, it’ll colonise, and it’ll take over when we get our first rains. It’s because it has the light on it. If you don’t want capeweed to grow, you either don’t graze down so hard, or you mulch it with hay or something and keep the light off it and you won’t get the capeweed come out.

Woman: The history of this paddock is that it was mowed for many years –

Grasser: Right.

Woman: – with a lawn mower.

Grasser: You’ll find hay paddocks tend to suffer a lot with it as well and where stock have really hammered it home. I expect they’ll be quite a bit of capeweed that is going to, sort of, rear its head again this year because of the extended dry that we’ve had.

This is a clip from “Walk the Talk” with Gerhard Grasser: Healthy Soils, Healthy People filming available for Farming Secrets Members.

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