Why You Should make friends with weeds
September 30, 2020
Are weeds all that bad?
Most people don’t like weeds. It seems like those of us who grow crops are always fighting to control them without getting anything in return. This month our Plant Health Department has been thinking about “why you should make friends with weeds”. One of the reasons we’ve found is that you can “read them”. Weeds can help you identify issues in the soil. Different weeds signify different nutritional imbalances underground.
Reading your weeds is the process of identifying weed species in your field and researching what that weed is telling you about soil conditions. We use a guide for our research but google will give you lots of information if you know the name of the weed.
How to read your weeds
Trees grow slowly and this means over time the soil is drained of its nutrients. Because of this, it’s crucial that we find ways to rebuild our soil.
Weeds help us determine the nutrient deficiencies in our soil. The weed pictured is Henbit. Here are a few things Henbit tells us about the soil:
- Very low in calcium
- Low in humus
- Low soil porosity
- Light soil (little moisture retention)
- Hard layers in soil
*many of the above are likely driven by the fact that the soil is low calcium.
Where to from here
Reading our weeds has given us some interesting insights as we care for our fields at rest and rebuild nutrients and soil health before we plant tree crops again. It’s unlikely that “reading our weeds” will trump other more practiced methods in our soil building program, but it is a simple additional practice that helps to affirm the directions we take!
If you have questions about reading your weeds, let us know! Our team would love to chat.