Thursday, 17 May 2012


Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a biennial plant; a rosette the first year and flowering  when mature during the second year. Ragwort stands between 30 -90 cms and is recognised by it bright yellow, daisy like flowers.  Its downy seeds are spread on the wind and a single plant can produce over 100,000 seeds.

It is a specified weed under the Weeds Act 1959. It contains toxins, which can have debilitating or fatal consequences if eaten by horses and other grazing animals.

Ragwort may need to be controlled when its presence and the likelihood of it spreading to neighbouring land poses a risk to horses and other grazing animals or land used for the production of forage.

Ragwort is difficult to eradicate as its seeds can lay dormant in the grounds for over twenty years.

You can pull up any plants. Ragwort is a toxic plant and suitable precautions must be taken when handling both live and dead plants. Hands must be protected by wearing sturdy waterproof gloves.  Arms and legs should also be covered.  A face mask should be used to prevent the inhalation of ragwort pollen or other airborne particles.   If ragwort comes in contact with the bare skin, the area should be thoroughly washed in warm soapy water and rinsed and dried.

Alternatively, you can control ragwort by application of chemical such as Glyphosate.  This is effective if applied to the plant during its rosette stage during its first year. This method avoids the tricky disposal of the plant.

Ragwort is able to set seed, even after being pulled, dug or cut and therefore there is a high risk of seed dispersal to neighbouring land during transportation. To avoid seed dispersal ragwort should only be transported in sealed bags or enclosed containers.  Where plants are bulky they can be cut up to assist packing.  To avoid unnecessary seed dispersal, seed heads should be cut off first and packed.

The safe and effective disposal of ragwort is an important part of ragwort control. Disposing of ragwort responsibly reduces the risk of further spread by seed dispersal and regrowth from root sections.

The options for disposal will depend on the amount of ragwort to be disposed of, the type of site and local resources available. Wherever practicable, ragwort should be disposed of on site. This will reduce the inadvertent spreading of the seeds during transport.

Options for disposal include:

Rotting down 
Small quantities where ragwort can be safely rotted down on site in a rigid plastic compost bin or similar. 

Controlled burning/incineration
DEFRA exemption to Waste Management Licence if small quantities of ragwort (less than 10 tonnes per day) is burnt on site by land owner. 

For disposing of ragwort on or off site.  To be composted to British Standard PAS 100:2005.

Biomass facility or incinerator
Where therr is an onsite biomass facility or incinerator

Waste management company
For large scale disposal where on site disposal is not possible   

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