Portrait of a goat eating a grass on a green meadow

Science proves what farmers already know: Goats make excellent weedkillers.

Rodale News

Herbivores—not herbicides—is the way to go, according to research published in the journal PeerJ.

The researchers compared the effectiveness of goats versus chemical herbicides against the common reed—a grass that is overrunning coastal wetlands from New England to the Southeast. “For more than two decades, we’ve declared major chemical and physical warfare on this grass, using all the latest man-made weapons,” says Brian R. Silliman, PhD, associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “We’ve used helicopters to spray it with herbicides and bulldozers to remove its roots. More often than not, however, it returns.”

So, they were excited when goats—cheap, environmentally-sustainable goats—proved to be an effective solution. “We find that allowing controlled grazing by goats or other livestock in severely affected marshes can reduce the stem density of [reed] cover by about half in around three weeks,” Silliman explains.

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