Weeds As Messengers – Part 1

“Most people think along the same lines of KILL KILL as in conventional agriculture. I want them to look at WHY the weeds are there and what they are telling them – and how they are trying to help!! Then get some soil tests to see what is going on. Cheryl Kemp

Biodynamic, organic and biological agriculture look at weeds as messengers. What message are they giving us and how can we act on the message? Killing the messenger is not an option! The farmer needs to go back into the history of the area/paddock/land and look at the symptoms presenting and work towards longer term solutions.

1. Dominant Weeds of one type
Dominant weeds are often signs of an environmental problem or nutrient deficiency. For example Patterson’s Curse and Fireweed is usually a calcium, phosphorus and copper deficiency. Soil tests will often confirm the lack of major elements like calcium, potassium and phosphate or the trace elements of copper etc.
Parramatta Grass is also calcium and phosphorus deficiency and has been cleared using a 1-2 tonne per hectare application of well composted chicken manure. You may need to cultivate the area to break up the perennial clumps, and pepper (see notes at end) at cultivation.

If thistles, wild turnip and wild carrot are in amongst your pasture, look for compaction. These deep rooting weeds with large tap roots are trying to break up the soil and let in oxygen and water.

Bindweed shows up where the soil has been cultivated too wet and it has crusted over.

Damp /acidic conditions will show up with buttercups, sorrel and dock, or water weeds that can cope with the anaerobic conditions around their roots.

Solutions:

Have soil tests done and replace major nutrients with natural mineral inputs, preferably via composting. Using chicken manure in Biodynamic compost will naturally lift phosphorus levels. Use the Biodynamic preparations to bring balance back into soil life and soil nutrition to increase natural fertility.

Over-sow or re-pasture, if necessary. The area may need ripping or aerating to open up compaction and bring in oxygen and water.

Rotational grazing to support variety and allow re-growth of all species and stop overgrazing of areas.

Cease use of herbicides and water soluble fertilisers, as these reduce beneficial soil biology and increase weeds.

 

Ref. Cheryl Kemp Biodynamic Advisor