Kildare farmer transforms weed control in hay and silage swards

Switching to the two new herbicides Envy and Pastor Trio has transformed weed control in hay and silage swards for Kildare contractor and farmer, Stephen O’Grady.

As well as running a baling contracting business at Turnings, Straffan, Stephen has also built a successful business selling haylage and hay to stud farms and riding schools in the area.

His regular and loyal customers place a significant importance on quality as they require clean, weed-free hay and haylage.

I started using Envy and Pastor Trio when they first came onto the market two years ago. They produce excellent results, including weed-free hay and haylage and the swards remain clean the following year.

“A clean hay sward is also much easier to save. I can make hay from clean grass a day earlier than grass which is infested with weeds,” said Stephen.

Results of cheaper herbicides

Before switching to Envy and Pastor Trio, Stephen was using cheaper herbicides on his rented meadows. The level of weed control was poor, swards were dirty the following year and grass was also stunted after spraying, leading to reduced yields.

An example of this was seen in a 34ac field. One year, Stephen obtained a total of 570 bales of haylage; however, the following year, when he sprayed it with a hormone-based herbicide a few weeks before cutting, grass growth was reduced, resulting in a yield of just 440 bales.

There was no change in fertiliser levels and no difference in grass growth patterns. He also used products containing fluroxypyr as the only ingredient, which resulted in poor weed control the following year.

Making the switch to Envy

Stephen O’Grady was among the first users of the translocated herbicide Envy after it was launched onto the market in 2017.

Containing the two potent active ingredients fluroxypyr and florasulam, it is powerful on docks, common chickweed, dandelions, buttercups and daisies.

It is also highly effective on a range of other weeds including plantain and mouse-eared chickweed and it has the big advantage of not stunting grass growth.

The recommended application rate for Envy in established swards is 2L/ha in a minimum of 200L of water. Stephen has found that 1.5L/ha gives effective control of chickweed, buttercups, dandelions and docks.

Where a sward has a very heavy infestation of weeds he is prepared to go back the next year in order to eliminate any residuals weeds.

Pastor Trio powerful on thistles

Where thistles are also among the weed population in a sward, Stephen uses Pastor Trio.

This is another recently introduced herbicide, containing fluroxypyr and florasulam, the two active ingredients found in Envy, and it also contains clopyralid.

This unsprayed strip, pictured a few weeks after spraying, shows the power of Pastor Trio on buttercups

Pastor Trio is powerful on the same range of weeds as Envy but has the added advantage of killing thistles.

It should be applied at 2L/ha in a minimum of 200L of water to silage/hay swards and permanent pasture. As with Envy, it does not have any negative impact on grass growth.

Optimum timing

Best results are achieved from Envy and Pastor Trio by spraying when weeds are actively growing and are at the right growth stage.

In silage and hay swards, the best time to spray is two to four weeks after fertiliser is applied, when weeds should be at the perfect stage for an effective kill.

The following is a good rule of thumb for the ideal growth stages of some of the main weeds:

  • Docks should be 15-25cm high or wide and before a seed head begins to emerge;
  • Thistles should have four to 10 leaves and be 15-25cm high;
  • While good results can be achieved by spraying buttercups at the flowering stage, optimum control is achieved by spraying before they flower.

When spraying with Envy or Pastor Trio, it is important to wait at least three weeks before cutting hay or silage. This ensures that the chemicals get fully translocated to the root system of the weeds, a vital factor in long-term control.

Where weed-infested silage swards are already harvested or where swards are now too advanced for a pre-cutting application of Envy or Pastor Trio, the ideal time to spray is three to four weeks after cutting. This will ensure weed-free, productive swards for the rest of the season and the following year.

Excellent results can be achieved from spraying grazing swards into the autumn. When spraying grazing swards, keep animals off the pasture for seven days after spraying.

Further information

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