Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Springtime sheep grazing helps control leafy spurge

Date:
December 31, 2009
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Using sheep to control leafy spurge works best if it's done in the spring every year, according to a new study.

Prescribed grazing with sheep is an inexpensive and effective way to control leafy spurge compared to applying herbicides and replanting pastures, according to new ARS research.
Credit: Photo by Scott Bauer

Using sheep to control leafy spurge works best if it's done in the spring every year, according to an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study.

Related Articles


After a few years of sheep grazing during spring, desirable forage grasses gain the upper hand as leafy spurge declines. Compared to applying herbicides and replanting pastures, prescribed grazing with sheep is inexpensive, according to researchers at the ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, Mont., and cooperators.

Rangeland ecologist Matt Rinella at Fort Keogh, along with graduate student Ben Hileman from Montana State University, found that even a little grazing in the spring for a few years can trigger positive plant community changes in leafy spurge-infested areas. The researchers used clipping treatments that mimicked light sheep grazing. They did this so they could control all variables and isolate the effects of the seasonal timing of grazing.

A possible reason light spring grazing is so devastating to leafy spurge--and maybe to other non-grassy weeds--is that the defoliation stress triggers tannin production at the expense of plant growth. Tannins often repel grazers, so there is a selective advantage to this kind of response, but an extensive loss of foliage is too much of a detrimental offset. In the first year of being grazed, the spurge plants use carbohydrates stored in the roots, but these become depleted, and the carbohydrates devoted to tannins are not available for new growth.

Of course, the desirable grasses are eaten as well. But grasses, unlike broadleaf plants such as spurge, are less appetizing to sheep because grasses accumulate silica, and silica uptake and storage probably take less energy than tannin production.

This research was reported recently in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

In combination with sheep grazing and other non-chemical strategies, beneficial insects form the centerpiece of ARS' leafy spurge control program nationally.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Springtime sheep grazing helps control leafy spurge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002100714.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2009, December 31). Springtime sheep grazing helps control leafy spurge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002100714.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Springtime sheep grazing helps control leafy spurge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002100714.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins