Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Noxious weeds are extremely aggressive, invasive and are very difficult to control. This is because they have developed characteristics that allow them to “out compete” many native species and are capable of establishing large monocultures, which extinguishes biodiversity.
The most commonly accepted method of controlling noxious and invasive weeds is the use of herbicides. But this is a relatively new solution. It was only in the late 1940s that herbicides were developed and the era of the “miracle” weed killers began. Herbicides are now the largest product type of pesticides - accounting for almost 50% of global pesticide sales. Yet noxious weeds continue to be a major problem for landowners.
Herbicides typically need multiple applications and must be supported by additional management tools such as re-seeding, replanting native species, and often hand picking weed regrowth. On larger lands, there is also the ongoing costs associated with equipment, maintenance, labour, and the chemicals themselves. These are annual costs with no sign of decreasing because the weeds return every year.
One of the reasons for this is that most noxious weeds are prolific seed producers and create a soil “seed bank” legacy that must be addressed if you want to truly eliminate them. Herbicides are not effective at eliminating the seed bank, which is why these weeds return every year - and cost landowners a lot of money on an annual basis with no sign of stopping.
Furthermore, understanding that nature is not static and plants have the ability to adapt to their environment, some invasive plants are now becoming herbicide resistant.
However, the real cost of weed control that landowners need to understand is the potential damage herbicides do to the soil, natural ecosystem, animals and people. It is estimated that one third of soil in the world is now degraded - and the UN estimates all soil will be degraded within the next 60 years. This is a massive threat to all landowners that needs to be addressed immediately. And that's on top of the potential health risks that are well documented at this point.
A better solution for most weed control is the use of goats. Yes, goats. Goats have been used to eliminate weeds and regenerate land for thousands of years. For good reason.
First of all, goats are more effective at eliminating many weeds because they eat the flowers first which stops them from reseeding. Goats really love those noxious weeds that are harmful to most animals and they are excellent climbers so are able to reach weeds that most machines couldn't. This means that over the course of 3-5 years, a goats-for-weeds program will eliminate the majority of noxious weeds for a landowner (taking those annual budgets down to a fraction of what they were as they shift to a maintenance program).
Secondly, while the goats are roaming the landscape they are also stomping, aerating, mulching, and fertilizing the land with their manure. The result is a regeneration of the soil, allowing nutrients and sunlight in to create a more biodiverse system that is healthy and strong. This is true whether it is a farmland, acreage, public park, or forestry. Rather than allowing weeds in every year only to degrade the land and environment with chemicals, goats are a natural solution that actually improves the land.
The result is a more cost-effective, sustainable, land improvement program that will not only save you a lot of money - it will improve your land and return it to its natural ecosystem.
Controlling weeds with herbicides is both harmful and ineffective.