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Herbicides, fertilizers, and horses
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Joe
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Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
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 Posted: Sat Jun 30th, 2007 07:03 pm
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We generally use near-organic methods on the property including the pastures, but have a couple of important pastures that were seriously damaged during the intense three-year drought we suffered here.  Now that the drought is over and it has rained serveral times a week for months, the weeds are thick and lush and choking out the regrowth of the edible grasses.

Normally, the majority of my weed control is through mowing and pasture rotation.  However, the drought threw off the beneficial effects of rotation -- lots of areas just died off, and the deep mud this has made mowing a very occasional thing so the weeds are near waist high in places--and I am 6"5" tall.  There seems to be no alternative to broad-leaved  herbicide from my backpack sprayer.

having read about horses negative responses to some herbicides, I thought to ask before I spray.  Are there any products or specific active ingredients sold in the UNited States that should be avoided in horse pastures?  Conversely, and there any that are especially effective while still being safe?

Joe Sullivan

StaceyW
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Joined: Wed Mar 28th, 2007
Location: Virginia USA
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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 02:30 am
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Hi Joe,

 First get a soil sample and find out what micro/macronutrients you are deficient in. Many weeds are indicators of ailing soil. Your local horticultural extension agent should be able to help you with this.

Once you get your soil nutrition straightened out you could put down an application of granular 2,4-D for your broad leafed weeds. Follow the label instructions regarding the REI for livestock.  Vantage, liquid or granular I believe, works well for monocots (grasslike, lilylike) plants). Your extension agent might have a better idea than this of what herbicides to use depending on your weed crop.

Good luck. :)

 

StaceyW

Last edited on Sun Jul 1st, 2007 02:31 am by StaceyW

joe sullivan
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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 03:01 am
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Good advice.  Our local grass and range expert is a friendly acquaintance of mine and I will consult with him.  However, given the attention that Dr. Deb and others give to food-related horse problems, and that fact that such may not be part of the normal extension agent body of knowledge, I thought to ask here first.

The pasture soil tests out well.  What happened was that three years of serious drought took us to great expanses of bare soil and when the rains came back, what had been good pasture was overwhelmed with various forbs, including the ragweed, various asteraceae, members of the nightshade family, and so on.

Really, that was some drought.  We didn't graze our pastures at all for over 12 months -- and the grasses still died.  It was murders feed 100% hay month after month, as the retail prices climbed above $11.00 for 50-60 pound squares.  We got occasional shipments at $7>00 plus freight, which again took the net cost above %$9.00 in most cases.

Now it has not stopped raining in weeks and even the slopes have liquid water on them all of the time.

 

Joe

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 04:47 am
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Joe, when you talk to your friend the ag extension agent, he's going to tell you the following facts (and if he doesn't bring any of these up, then you should):

(1) The application of certain herbicides to certain plants can temporarily make those plants more palatable to horses, i.e. it causes the plant to make a big push of sugar before it turns over and croaks. This can make poisonous plants, which the horses would otherwise ignore, tremendously dangerous.

(2) There is a period of direct toxicity after the application of herbicide. On the package it is going to express this in terms of a half-life. Whatever the manufacturer or licensed applicator tells you this half-life is, just double it and use that figure to find when you can turn your horses back out into an area that has been sprayed with herbicide.

(3) The application of nitrogen-containing fertilizer to certain plants causes these plants to accumulate nitrogen to levels that will be toxic to cattle and sheep, and that CAN (though much more rarely) be toxic to horses.

(4) Any fertilizer that's on leaves, or that is applied when the pasture is wet, or that falls into or is washed into the horses' water supply (i.e. a pond or that gets down into a buried cistern, etc.) is directly toxic to horses.

Go to the Noble Foundation online and read the "pasture management" paper they have posted there....it covers many of these points. Our Australian and NZ friends are already well aware of these things, because their national and provincial governments have done a uniformly better job of notifying horse owners of potential problems coming from these sources. Best wishes, and let us know what you learn when you go see the extension agent. HE may not be aware of some of these things, either; I find a tendency in the American community to downplay some of these problems that really should not be downplayed. -- Dr. Deb

 

Joe
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Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 04:35 pm
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I will report back what I learn.

Some years back there were instances of nitrate poisoning of horses on hay that was fertilized with nitrogen.  I never suffered that myself, but have become exceptionally cautious as a result.  Then reading here abuut food-induced behavioral and neurological problems raised my level of concern.

Nobel FOundation is a great resource, isn't it?

Joe


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