Now is the time to destroy noxious weeds if they’re growing on your land

Farmers in Northern Ireland are being reminded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) of the need to destroy noxious weeds.

Under the Noxious Weeds (Northern Ireland) Order 1977 ragwort, thistle, dock and wild oat are defined as noxious weeds and landowners have a legal responsibility to prevent the spread of these weeds.

DAERA is reminding owners and occupiers of land that ragwort (also called ragweed or benweed) is poisonous and may cause illness and even death to livestock.

It advises that noxious weeds should be destroyed before they have had time to flower, seed and spread.

The Department is empowered to serve upon the owner of land or the occupier of land a notice requiring, within a specified time, noxious weeds to be cut down or destroyed.

Failure to comply with such a notice could lead to the instigation of legal proceedings or the loss of Single Farm Payment, it says.

The annual cutting of noxious weeds has little or no benefit as a long-term control measure
though it may limit seed production and dispersal according to DAERA.

Herbicides are generally very effective and, when used in co-ordination with other good sward management practices, should prevent weeds spreading to adjacent land.

DAERA is warning farmers that care should be taken when filling and applying herbicides to ensure no chemicals enter any drain or waterway as grassland herbicides are the most commonly detected pesticides in local drinking water catchments, MCPA being of particular concern.

When spraying, it advises to observe buffer zones and where possible use low drift nozzles.

After spraying it recommends ensuring sprayers are cleaned and stored under cover to prevent rain washing any contamination from the sprayer into drains.

A Water Catchment Partnership has been formed to highlight the issue of pesticides in local water catchments and is seeking to raise awareness of the issue with local users.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will be supporting this initiative with localised delivery of Rush and Grassland Weed Control Workshops.

Further advice on weed control can be obtained from a BASIS qualified agronomist or your CAFRE Crops Development Adviser.