The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) have issued information regarding the containment and suppression of rushes.
They state that farmers have been employing strategies previously that are not appropriate to the scale or challenge of the rushes on their holding.
The DAFM revealed that a lot of farmers are implementing these inappropriate actions due to a common misconception that rushes on grassland will incur a penalty on a farmer’s Basic Payment Scheme.
They want to clarify that this is incorrect. Provided there is evidence of agricultural activity, such as grazing, these areas will not be subjected to DAFM penalties in relation to rushes.
Choosing a containment strategy is the most important aspect of managing an infestation of rushes. Each case will differ and it is important to identify whether you should attempt to contain the infestation or suppress it.
The Department state that suppression identifies a manageable problem that can, with the appropriate interventions, result in satisfactory control of rushes, increased long-term productivity and a financial return on the investment incurred.
Containment, on the other hand, is where any intervention on rush infestation is unlikely to result in a lasting positive outcome, due to the location of the farm and its viability. The best option here, according to the department, is to prevent the situation from getting any worse.
Location is the dominant factor impacting the scale of the problem, including elevation, slope, aspect, rainfall, soil structure and drainage. Other than investing in drainage, which is expensive, there is little a farm owner can do to deal with the negative impacts.
Farm factors include the type of farming practised and how intensive it is. Involvement in certain agri-environmental schemes may limit various potential control options, e.g. ability to use herbicides or pesticides etc.
Sward factors are largely influenced by other factors, such as drainage and soil pH. Swards can be reseeded, but this can be expensive and ineffective if the land condition remains favourable to rushes.
Amending the pH can be achieved by applying lime, which the Department say is relatively cheap, but drainage is quite expensive and is most likely only viable on the most efficient holdings.
The DAFM recommend that a cost/benefit analysis will have to be carried out to determine whether the investment will have the desired outcome.