Leafy spurge is a pest nobody wants to contend with and once it invades a field or pasture, can be more than difficult to remove. 

South of the Divide Conservation Action Program (SODCAP) will be hosting a three-day targeted grazing academy in Swift Current Feb. 5-7 to help farmers and ranchers with dealing with invasive weeds, including leafy spurge. 

The first two days will involve an intensive target-grazing school, including weed identification, weed management, targeted grazing planning, and invasive weed mapping, which  SODCAP rep Melanie Toppi said was needed if a producer was looking to tap into government funding. 

Participants will learn how to create a grazing plan that targets invasive weeds, including electric fencing and targeted-grazing, which includes using ruminants such as goats and sheep to help rid pastures and fields of leafy spurge. 

Toppi said they have had a number of inquiries about targeted grazing and will be bring in an expert from California for the sessions. 

“There is a shortage of people with knowledge of targeted grazing, so we are bringing in an expert from California,” she said.

Leafy spurge can be a tough weed to control as it will out-compete forage and native plant species. In humans, it can cause dermatitis, but it can cause blistering for cattle. On the contrary, sheep and goats are not affected by the plants toxins and have no problem with grazing it. 

Part of the targeted grazing academy will also include information on the needs of the small ruminants, temporary grazing strategies, emergency strategies, and invasive weed management. 

“They will also learn how to map invasive weeds using the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre and the mapping is needed in order to get funding,” said Toppi.

For detailed information about the event, contact Toppi at 306-621-3545.

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