Growing and Producing Certified Weed-Free Forage
Of all the ways farmers and landowners can help stop the spread of invasive species, one of the best is by growing certified weed-free forage.
Invasive species are commonly spread through hay and forage because they are transported long distances. This usually introduces invasive species to areas which have never seen the weed before or the weed has been introduced but still shouldn’t be there.
Weed-free forage is just that – forage free of any noxious or invasive weeds. But, farmers must have the forage inspected and certified to be considered weed-free.
According to the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA), “There is a growing demand in North America for the use of certified weed-free forage and mulch as a preventative program in integrated weed management systems to limit the spread of noxious weeds.”
NAISMA developed a weed-free forage program to reduce the spread of invasive plants.
The standards established in the program are meant to ensure some assurance to all participants that forage certified through this program meets a minimum acceptable standard; continuity between various provinces, states and federal lands in the program and to limit the spread of noxious weeds.
The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC) is proud to participate in this program and help growers across the state grow weed-free forage.
How to grow and certify weed-free forage
Growers and landowners can contact their local weed and pest district to get started. Most districts in the state will certify fields free of charge.
Growers can develop a weed management program with their district and follow the treatment plan. In order to be certified, weeds must be treated before an inspector visits the fields.
Many of WWPC’s employees are NAISMA certified to certify hay to NAISMA’s standards.
Why farmers should grow weed-free forage
Noxious weeds are increasingly damaging to the landscape and livestock in Wyoming. Invasive weeds are usually unpalatable and sometimes poisonous to livestock.
Additionally, managing invasive weeds in the U.S. costs upwards of $130 billion each year. Growing certified hay prevents the spread, can lower the cost of prevention and protects livestock.
While growing weed-free forage helps the environment, it also allows growers to find new customers and buyers who want or need weed-free hay.
Many federal and state lands require certified weed-free forage to prevent the spread of invasive weeds, so there is a growing demand for this kind of forage in Wyoming and throughout the country.
The weed-free program is a great process because it benefits growers, buyers, Wyoming and the rest of the agricultural community. Individuals should reach out to their local weed and pest district today to get started.
This article is courtesy of the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC). WWPC comprises of 23 weed and pest districts in the state of Wyoming. The council works closely with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the University of Wyoming to keep current with the latest technology and research available in the ongoing management of noxious weeds and pests. The overall mission is to provide unified support and leadership for integrated management of noxious weeds and pests to protect economic and ecological resources in the state.