Winter is Coming – Preparing Your Pasture

One of the biggest threats to pasture today is the encroachment of invasive and alien plant species. This unwanted vegetation can quickly invade and spread, steal critical resources from grasses and shrubs, and create a negative grazing potential on a farmer’s land, especially during winter when resources are already limited.


So, how can you best prepare your grazing pasture for this coming winter?


What are invasive and alien plant species to look out for?

Bankrupt bush and wild asparagus (katbos) are two common invasive species. According to SANBI1, 10 million ha have been infested by bankrupt bush. With the Free State Province the most severely affected, North West second, followed by Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.


A study published2 by the Department of Environmental Affairs also listed these species as encroachers in specific areas: blackthorn in the Kalahari, sickle bush in the Central Bushveld and Lowveld, mopane in the Mopane region, red bush willow and silver cluster leaf in the Lowveld, sweet thorn in the Sub-escarpment Savanna and Grasslands and the paperbark thorn in the Sub-escarpment Grasslands.


Why is it happening?

Researchers have found that there are a few factors contributing to the problem. But without making it too complicated fewer fires, overgrazing, periods of drought and higher CO2 levels are major contributors to invading species.


How can it be controlled?

Farmers need to work closely with the DAFF and other role players to sustainably manage grassland areas for better and healthier ecosystems. Chemical treatment programmes are easy to manage and implement, and ultimately the small investment will deliver good returns in the long-term. Chemical treatment of invasive and alien species has proven to be the most effective and the cost of the herbicide can be recouped in a few years. Should you want to clear trees and bigger shrubs through physical management, it is important to follow it up with a chemical programme to treat stumps and roots.


IVM Chemicals can assist farmers with the correct environmentally sound herbicides, dosages and application advice to treat invaders such as bankrupt bush and katbos. We advise that the chemical treatment be applied directly to the shrub at the prescribed dosage so as not to cause unintended damage to surrounding vegetation. Follow-up treatment may be necessary as these plants can be persistent and easily germinate.


Should you want to first pull out or chop up the bushes and burn it, do so before it sets seed in a different and safe location. Keep in mind that fire stimulates germination. Seed set occurs between February and April. Treat the roots as prescribed by your IVM Consultant.


For more information or a quote regarding the treatment of invasive and alien plant species, please contact IVM Chemicals today.