Bracken Fern on pastures - what to do?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Shell, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. Shell

    Shell Junior Member

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    I have just bought a rural property that has been vacant for 6 years. During that time quite a few large patches of bracken fern have established. I hear it is poison to cattle, so what can I do? My mother in law suggested spraying with Glysphosat. Is there any other way? I really don't like to spay!
     
  2. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    Cattle don't eat it. Paddocks here in our district have quite a bit of it and it is not a problem. Leave it alone but if it starts to crowd out pasture grazing you can repeatedly mow/slash it and it will eventually die out.
     
  3. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    Pigs love it and can be kept fenced in with a solar energiser and a single strand of polytape.

    Its a sign of low nutrient, so you could do some composting over it. Spraying with glyphosate wont fix the underlying problem.

    Bracken mulch is great for potassium, and good for potatoes apparently. You can make beer from the rhizome, if your are that way inclined...
     
  4. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Spraying glyphosphate is a good way to kill yourself, your family, and destroy the infrastructure of your farm.

    No offense, your mother in law doesn't understand soil science & how it effects the world of the farm it seems.

    Follow Matto & mouse's ideas, I would go one further and add a substantial amount of earthworms as well, they will help increase the size of cattle over time.
     
  5. CraigMackintosh

    CraigMackintosh *****

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  6. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    where?
     
  7. Shell

    Shell Junior Member

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    Thanks matto, I was wondering if it would make good mulch! Not really into making beer... but I will dump manure over it and keep it slashed!
     
  8. Shell

    Shell Junior Member

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    The property is in the Mary Valley, QLD, Australia andrew curr
     
  9. Shell

    Shell Junior Member

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    Great link, thanks CraigMackintosh!
     
  10. Shell

    Shell Junior Member

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    Does anyone know if a strategy of slashing followed by thick sheet mulching would kill the bracken or do the rhizomes not die through this approach?
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I think there is a soil pH issue with bracken too, so maybe do some research on if changing the pH changes the growth habits of bracken and make it easier to grow something else there instead.

    (resists the urge to link to the Singapore Daisy thread).

    I agree with Pak, spraying bracken creates bare ground and guess what grows there next? This is the common practice in NZ hil farming - spray or burn, but it has to be done regularly and ongoing. Bracken grows on bare soil that has been mistreated, as a way of repairing the fertility. If left alone eventually it wil be succeded by other plants/forest. If you don't want to do that on your land, then working with the land and treating it well is going to help you get out of the bracken cycle.

    If the land is otherwise bare, the bracken will be creating habitat for various creatures. If you need to clear it, consider harvesting the bracken for some other use.

    How big is your land? Can you let native or other forest regenerate on the brackeny bits? What part of the world are you in?

    edit: wiki has some interesting bits on historical uses for bracken

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bracken
     
  12. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    Bracken does indeed grow on poor sandy soils but in Australia it is often all that remains of the native vegetation after land clearing. Our Australian soils are ancient and fragile and often lacking in many nutrients which is what a great deal of our native vegetation has evolved to deal with. Certainly this is the case here in the south east of South Australia. Our conservation covenant areas on our property are dominated by bracken but are integral to the health of the various tree species which form the overstory. Where bracken and supporting understory plants have been cleared by spraying or slashing it is usually the case that remnant trees will fare poorly and are more susceptible to disease and succumbing to drought. The bracken here grows with dozens of other species of grasses, mosses, shrubs and fungi but that is only possible due to the complete exclusion of stock for over ten years.
     
  13. JaninaG

    JaninaG Junior Member

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    May not be any help, My dad was from Ukraine, and he bought almos 100 acres - not permculture, raised cattle and ran some sheep, After he cleared the land, surrounded by tree plantations, he build a couple of dams, and left trees for shade, He used to go walking over the land every day right up till he died in 2007

    He walked with a mattock which he used to dig up any bracken or thistle or horrid plant that was no good for cattle and we used to use the cow patties as golf practise to spread the manue. His property was the cleanest in the region. His hay great quality. and we had a lot of fun. So from 1984 to 2007 only the odd unacceptable weed - dangerous to cattle lived on that land. Pop used to take the tractor out every second day and collected the weeds and burn them.

    After he died, it only took 2 years of lack of care for the property to be overgrown and looking miserable.

    But the exercise was great and golf with cow patties was hilarious :)
     
  14. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Hey Shell! You are just up the road from me (sort of…). If I was a golfer I'd come up for some practice.
     
  15. JaninaG

    JaninaG Junior Member

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    Im not a golfer as was evidence but the amout of times i missed the patty, and when I hit it when it was a duck every time, but did spread the manure around :) LOL
     
  16. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    It died where I live via this method.
     
  17. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    How thick was the sheet mulch Pak, and what was the mulch?
     
  18. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Building up soil nutrients will eventually remove the bracken. Slashing the bracken and mulching insitu is recommended by most as the soil balance will eventually right itself. If cattle are running over it and compacting, it may take longer. Depends on where the bracken is and what your goal is, you could fence and establish native legumes and small forest pockets on it if you were so inclined.

    I've posted in your intro thread and if you can meet Graeme Elphinstone, he is the go-to pasture man out that way. He is not a permaculturalist so you need to adapt the advice.
     
  19. mike

    mike Junior Member

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    Hi Shell,Repeated slashing and by that I mean slashing or mowing whenever it gets to about a foot high will eventually kill it as those new fronds feed the root structure.I wouldn't put anything on top of it until I was certain it had died out.Bracken fern can push through any mulch and then your just feeding it. You can use a chemical wick wiper system with the brand name brush on which is very effective as your not spraying the soil as the chemical is taken down to the root system by the fern on top.Hope this has been of some assistance .Regards Mike.
     
  20. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    1/2" of cardboard followed by 6" of straw.
     

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