My pasture is being overtaken by yarrow. It is a small pasture (only 1/2 acre) and I was hoping to get a mini-jersey someday for it. I have had sheep on it and they don't seem to graze on the yarrow and it is really spreading. I don't use any chemicals and am not sure how to eradicate it.
I lived in a paddock for a few years that was a mix of grasses, yarrow and hieracium. The yarrow seemed to lessen in the second summer, I think this was because the paddock hadn't been mown and this gave the grasses the advantage.
In general I'd say yarrow grows in places where the ground gets disturbed. What's the recent history of the land you have?
If it's only a 1/2 acre I would just go out and mow it or scythe it down before it goes to seed. You might want to keep the sheep off of it for a while then look into frost seeding an appropriate pasture blend next spring. I usually will mix in some extra clover with the pasture mix just to bolster the N fixing on the land. You could even pulse some chickens through there this fall, they seem to enjoy knocking just about any plant over! I would definitely start by mowing it though, that should keep it from spreading more and give your seeds next spring someplace to get a foothold.
I try to only mow the grass when a lot of weeds are getting ready to seed. I was told to mow it to keep the weeds under control. I do not have a scythe and bought a mower with the highest setting possible to not cut it too short. I would love to not mow it but feel like the weeds would be worse.
I tried putting black plastic down on all the large patches of yarrow throughout pasture but didn't leave it down long enough (one month earlier this summer). The grass mixed in with the yarrow was killed but the darn yarrow wasn't!
I could try just cutting down weeds throughout pasture and not mowing the grass...
As far as I know, the yarrow hasn't really bloomed and seeded but I will watch for that. Also, I don't have any livestock on pasture this year. It is just sitting empty. It is probably not big enough for even a mini-cow. I should probably get several dairy goats, but I just can't stand the taste of goat milk, even fresh. I can tell the difference!
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 5 years ago
Yarrow is a perennial. It spreads through rhizomous roots. Mowing will prevent if from going to seed, but not from sprouting next year. At my place yarrow out-competes grass that is cut about once a month. Tilling would just chop the roots up into lots of smaller propagules. Tilling every few weeks all summer long might work. A half acre is small enough to weed by hand. If there are clumps of yarrow I'd dig out the clumps, separate the soil from the roots, and dump the roots in a pile outside the pasture. For widespread infestations I'd take a shovel or hoe and separate the top of the plant from the roots. It will re-sprout, but if done consistently enough, the rhizomes eventually run out of energy. I've never had any luck solarizing soil. It only worked for annual weed seeds at my place, not for perennial weeds.
I agree with Joseph's thoughts on this, well said.
The only thing I will add is that if that is the condition of the pasture now, it will be a long road of pasture building to be able to support a Jersey cow someday.
The best approach is to work up through less nutrient-demanding classes of livestock, starting with goats, then sheep, then beefcattle. Once a given class of livestock is thriving, then next year, move on to the next. Dairy cows have unbelievable nutritional needs, and trying to raise them on anything less than excellent quality pasture usually ends in fertility and health problems. Slow and steady wins the race!
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:If there are clumps of yarrow I'd dig out the clumps, separate the soil from the roots, and dump the roots in a pile outside the pasture.
I will take this opportunity to point out one very significant medicinal use for yarrow roots, important enough that you might want to save some if you develop a big pile during pasture improvement.
I would not be without a jar of yarrow tincture in my fridge or pantry. (This might matter less to someone who has access to sufficient high-quality dental care.) I go foraging for my yarrow roots for this (leaving the ones on our land to spread, because I find them beautiful and useful and I don't have grazing animals) but if I had just rooted out a pile of yarrow roots, I would take a double handful of the fattest, whitest, juiciest roots, rinse well to remove soil particles, and pop them in a pint jar which I would then fill with cheap whiskey. It needs a few days to soak after which it seems to keep forever, although it's seemingly at its most potent during the first year. Using this liquid as a mouthwash (or mouth soak -- time on target seems to matter) relieves dental pain quite substantially, reduces inflammation, and seems to have an antibiotic effect -- it won't cure an abscess, but it will often quiet down an infected tooth for awhile, with about as much effectiveness as the prescription antibiotics do that your dentist might give you for three days prior to a procedure on a painful tooth.
The pain relief profile is interesting. There's a surface numbing effect (like that from clove oil) that's immediate, but frequently it doesn't seem to touch deeper pain right at first. An hour later, though, the deeper pain is often substantially reduced. I'm assuming this is a follow-on effect from the anti-inflammatory or antibiotic effects, but it's just a guess.
Swallowing the tinctured whiskey after use is not necessary. But I do swallow it. Why waste whiskey?