Ragwort is a fast-growing and easily spreading plant that will thrive in most soil types and weather conditions, but is particularly suited to neglected grass fields, preferring soils with a low fertility.

Plan of action for infestedpaddocks

1. It may be worth doing a soil analysis to determine whether the soil is deficient in nitrogen, potassium or phosphorus. MAFF, ADAS, agricultural colleges and independent consultants will be able to advise.

2. Walking around your field on a regular basis will help to detect small plants.

3. Although labour-intensive, the most effective method of eradication is to pull it out of the ground. Always wear thick rubber gloves to protect your hands –scientific evidence has shown that humans as well as animals can contract ragwort poisoning.

4. Collected plants should be burnt to avoid the seeds spreading

5. A strip grazing plan can be used as a short-term measure, but this only involves areas of the field which have been previously treated.

6. Sprays, such as Barrier H, can be applied all year round. This spray is designed to kill the ragwort at the green rosette stage. Available from Barrier Animal Healthcare (tel: 01953 456363)

7. Ragwort is a biennial plant, so whatever action you take will need repeating the following year.