We pasture Water Buffalo and have a problem with the few plants they don’t eat. Right now it’s Dog Fennel. My question is what to do? Presently we’ve been mowing but that’s short term and energy intensive. I’ve plowed and planted grass in some areas fairly successfully with Bahia (In Florida, US). This is very energy intensive but with long term benefits. I’ve been resisting this but we’re thinking about using selective herbicides. Mainly because it’s less energy intensive, quick, locally available, and less disruption (I think) to the existing ecosystem. There’s a lot growing the animals presently eat, if not crowed and shaded by these few weeds. This area seeded it’s self in a fairly natural way without our help. There’s several products that will work, we can apply them with our equipment in less than 1 hour and maybe just 1 gallon of gas. Yes, already try and incorporate Savory HRM, and Salatian Mob Grazing principles but just don’t have the help, or we could approach isn’t in a different way.
What to do will reflect the uniqueness of your site. This is hard to assess without being there. But I will take a stab at it with a post because it makes my heart sad to see the consideration of herbicides. This too, is likely to be just a short-term "fix".
I just finished reading the book Beyond The War On Invasive Species by Tao Orion. I found the perspectives it presented quite interesting, if not compelling and it expanded my thinking towards plants that pose a challenege in the landscape. At the end of the book the author briefly outlined a series of actions for implementing a management plan based on permaculture. I recommend the book to anyone interested.
I'll summarize some thoughts real quickly using the lense of this book.
Take advantage of the successional tendencies of nature. Landscapes are evolving through a series of stages with different plants serving different functions. The dog fennel may be filling a niche or a void that is present in the current state of successsion for your environment. Explore the "benefits" this plant is fulfilling in your landscape. Then look at additional ways to replace it with more useful plants that do the same thing. The plowing and planting of grass is on the right track in this regard, but I'm thinking in terms of more diversity.
The only suggestions i can come up with right now is mow the fennel before it goes to seed. Harvest the biomass and use it for mulch or compost. Plant something that would appear in the next stage of succession like shubs and trees to compete with the fennel and eventually shade it out. Harvest the lumber. Reseed with a pasture mix and return grazing to the area.
The solution is likely to include multiple strategies. I hope other creative ideas get posted.
Hi Becky Have to admit it also makes me sad and angers my wife. True we have not done anything yet. Of course there's a lot of stuff to be sad about ( just check out the climate & weather bolgers: hottest years, hottest months, etc.) Personal believe humans can make beneficial stuff and maybe even herbicides. I'm 67 and been spending most of the last 30 years of my life trying to rationally sort out whats real wrong and right about the topic of sustainable living. American's create about 25 Tons of waste a year per person mainly stuff (about 95%) we don't see, different forms of carbon. Just like gas, we never think about how real toxic the stuff is till someone puts a tea spoon on a plate on the dinning room table. On the other hand we talk about the evils of Genetic Modifying stuff but real feel the only thing that might save us from our selfishness would be to start GMing the human mind to care about our selves, our planet, elders, and of course our children. Yes I'm confused and appreciate your reply and more than likely will take your (and my wife's) advise and hook up the old mower to the old tractor.
About 16 years ago I ran across the Intentional Communities Web site www.ic.org and thought this might be doable. A bunch of like minded sustainable farmer here, building electric tractors, harvesting compost (dog fennel) and doing the physical, sustainable work human have done since the beginning of time. Fail! Presently we continue leaving farms for the cities and leaving behind our past tribe. Hey but there's this great site' permies' that's on the right track! Thanks!