Sustainable farmer ditches herbicides, uses goats to eradicate noxious weeds | Ralph-Lauren

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Cardia Forsyth has more than 40 hectares of lush hinterland at Toms Creek, but the property is riddled with invasive plant species that fellow farmers across the country struggle to control.

While many landholders turn to herbicides or to physically pulling out a weed from the root, Ms Forsyth turned to an ancient solution to eradicate the unwanted plants.

“We went into herding and farming goats to take care of our weeds,” she said.

Goats can eat a variety of noxious weeds from fireweed to bitou bush and will often graze on weeds rather than desirable pasture species.

“We’ve eradicated tobacco bush in certain areas where we wanted to focus on, mainly around the office building, and that’s been tremendously great,” Ms Forsyth said.

Ms Forsyth said the animal’s ability to cope with the mountainous terrain that humans would struggle with was a huge plus.

“The landscapes have got quite a tremendous amount of slope, and dealing with the amount of slope on foot or on machine or on horseback is just impossible,” she said.

“It’s been such an education process working with livestock to eradicate species of weeds.”

Ditching chemicals for livestock

Ms Forsyth aimed to avoid the herbicides in her farming practice to ensure no negative flow-on effects from the use of chemicals.

“Because we have a lot of slope, as soon as you spray [a chemical herbicide] and you get a downfall of rain, a lot of the time those things leak into the watercourse, which can cause other problems,” she said.

“However using goats their main sense of attack is to ringbark a tree, push that tree down, and then come and annihilate that particular tree.”

Ms Forsyth was looking to grow her goat herd to be big enough to tackle the entire property.

“We have 100 acres [40 hectares] so we would be better off with a thousand goats, whereas at the moment we’re averaging around the 20 goat mark.”


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