Controlling undesirable plants on rangeland is an important part of an overall range management program. Undesirable plants use space, moisture, and nutrients that could be put to better use producing forage for grazing animals. Poisonous plants are an additional threat to animal health and productivity.
Weed and brush control are not in themselves range management, but are merely tools available to the manager. Controlling undesirable plants usually requires more intensive management. In most cases, it is futile to try to control undesirable plants without improving management.
Other methods Methods that have a definite place in range management are: chemical, rotobeating, plowing, disking, railing, chaining, burning, reseeding, and changes in grazing schedules. There are specific sites and reasons for use of the controls listed. Each is effective if used properly. Obtain specific information locally from the county Extension agent or professional range manager.
Safety and toxic hazard The toxicity of chemicals used in range weed control is low. No evidence of direct damage to animals as a result of these herbicides is available. However, take all precautions to prevent drift and damage to susceptible plants in the vicinity.
Methods of chemical application Methods of application depend on the species, terrain, and size of the area. In most extensive range weed control projects, the herbicide is applied by aircraft, either fixed-wing or helicopter. However, ground equipment may be used successfully. On small areas, ground or hand equipment may be most economical.
Some pastures contain poisonous plants. Grazing livestock normally do not eat many poisonous plants, but sometimes the composition of plants change after spraying. This can make some plants more palatable. Do not graze pastures known to have poisonous plants for at least 3 weeks after spraying.
Spot-spray to control perennial weeds in pastures. Follow recommendations to control specific weeds.
Many crops are grazed or used for pasture. When areas not generally defined as pasture are to be grazed, examine the herbicide label to determine what grazing restrictions apply before using the herbicide.
Caution This handbook is not intended as a complete guide to herbicide use. Before using any chemical, read the label on the container. Before a chemical can be recommended for a specific use, it must be thoroughly tested. The recommendation on the manufacturer’s label, when followed, can prevent many problems arising from the wrong use of a chemical.