Fodder conservation can reduce carryover weed seeds in a pasture. While the primary reason for making hay or silage is usually to conserve fodder, attention to annual weed seed production in the lead-up to and during hay or silage making can help ‘clean up’ a pasture.

Disrupting viable seed production is effective on annual plants with a short seed life such as silver, brome and barley grasses, annual ryegrass and capeweed. Disrupting seed set for just one year can dramatically reduce their presence in the following year.

Key considerations

Two broad approaches are used. The first, and most desirable, is to prevent viable seed from forming. This may be achieved by disrupting the maturing process of the seed by depriving it of water, nutrients or oxygen through the conservation process (such as cutting it) or by using herbicides.

The second is to physically trap and remove the seed in the conserved fodder, even if it is still capable of germinating. This is only effective if the captured seed is fed in a location where the spread of any germinating seeds can be adequately controlled, such as in containment feeding and feedlots.