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Knap-Time

By   /  July 27, 2015  /  11 Comments

Troy has some great ideas and experience dealing with pesky knapweed. By the end of the article you might be thinking of it as an excellent forage too!

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You’re probably looking at my title and thinking that I spelled in error, the act of slumber after
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About the author

contributor

Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is a seasoned grazier and grasslands advocate who owns, manages and linger-grazes at Bishopp Family Farm in Deansboro, NY with his understanding wife, daughters, grandchildren and parents. Their certified organic custom grazing operation raise dairy heifers, grass-finished beef and backgrounds feeder cattle on 180 acres of owned and leased pastures. Troy also mentors farmers on holistic land management for the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist. This award-winning free-lance writer, essayist and photographer maintains a website presence at www.thegrasswhisperer.com

11 Comments

  1. Stein says:

    Wanted to say thanks for this article. A few years ago after watching the video 12 Aprils (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLDKRXPyOh4) I started learning (didn’t know what a no till drill was, I’m a computer guy with a few acres of irrigated pasture and a wife that grew up with 4-H). I learned about no till/sustainable agriculture (https://youtu.be/nWXCLVCJWTU) learned about strip grazing and mob grazing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIHDmlUQ-1o) learned about the importance of soil coverage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBLZmwlPa8A)
    After watching the a video on intensive grazing I realized I needed to stop my animals from going back to an area recently grazed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75nwvIK2AMs) And my life has changed.
    I started a moving slot in my electric fence, I only have a few acres. Last summer when moving the fence through an area infested with the despised Knap Weed I noticed that was the first thing the cows went for. They even went past alfalfa and clover blooms to get to the flowers on the knap weed. I was dumb founded. Knapp weed is considered an intrusive weed and I have neighbors ‘helping me’ by spraying it. I didn’t want spray around my animals (felt guilty for getting after my father in-law, we’re supposed to respect our elders) even if it was between the fence and the road. I asked him not to spray I will come out an pull it by hand.

    I also have butter cup that is considered a weed by my neighbors. My thought is if my 2 cows, calve, and 5 goats will eat it and not hurt them it is not a weed it’s food. I learned the butter cup is not bad for the animals till it flowers and I learned it is a sign your soil is to wet and or needs fertility. It was exciting for me to learn about the phosphorus side of the knap weed. if you watch Trantham 12 Aprils he did a plant test on the top part of the plant that his cows broke out to eat and found how much more digestible the top third is. As he said this isn’t rocket science it learning from watching even from what you thought was a mistake “university of farmer Tom”

    Some bullet points I keep hearing, I’m harvesting sun, increased organic material equals better soil.

    I’ve concluded I need to leave some grass (weeds) to grow and catch the sun when the animals are done grazing, and if it grows and does not hurt my animals then it is helping me by putting organic material down. I’d love to let the knap weed grow but Idaho has it listed as a noxious weed so I’m supposed to control it. But I sure don’t want to use poisons. Again just wanted to say thanks for your article helps me know I’m on the right path. – Stein

  2. Curt Gesch says:

    My Dexter cows eat all the flowers on Canada thistles in their pastures. They eat some of the early “soft” greens. The bull sometimes eats cut and wilted thistles. My problem is getting rid of the roots.

  3. Troy Bishopp says:

    I enjoyed the piece better the 2nd time because I’ve been able to see some result. This year’s batch of CAFO dairy heifers are actually eating the buds, flowers and the top leaves better than the seasoned heifers. New food=trying more? It may be the heifers needed more minerals that was in the knapweed too. Still struggling with balancing too much rest that favors these kind of plants. Still excited about the pollinator aspect of timing the knapweed flowers and grazing/clipping. Thanks for the comments James and Kathy

  4. Jim Gerrish says:

    Troy,

    We have also been working hard on getting our spotted knapweed grazed off as it moves from bud to full bloom. I have been very impressed with how well this set of heifers is eating it even at it progresses to full bloom. This is one of those rare situation where I have been moving the cattle twice and sometime thrice a day to encourage them to eat even more.

    Jim

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