Certified Weed Free Forages: Why Are They Important?
In order to understand the importance of certified noxious weed-seed free forage, let’s first look at what noxious weeds are and what threat they pose to our environment.
Noxious weeds grow aggressively and scavenge moisture, nutrients, and sunlight from other plants. Noxious weeds are weeds that cause harm to the environment by:
- Competing against native plants
- Threatening pollinators that feed on native plants
- Harming ecosystems by breaking it down
- Posing a threat to wildlife
- Many noxious weeds are poisonous to wildlife and livestock
The threat to wildlife comes from suffocating native plant, restricting waterfowl and mammals of their food sources, nesting areas, and access to water.1
Buyers using certified noxious weed free forage help minimize the spread of noxious weeds onto private and public lands. Certain areas in the western United States require the use of certified forage (long-stem and cubes) on public land. These public land managers may also issue fines for using non-certified forage and require recovery costs of damage caused by noxious weeds to wildlife habitat.
“Certified” means that a forage product is free of any noxious weeds. A number of certified noxious weed free forage programs are based on weed-free forage standards set by the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA). Nationwide, there are about 20 State Department of Agricultures that are members of NAISMA. These Departments combine their state noxious weed list with the NAISMA prohibited weed list to create the NAISMA Standard for forage and straw certification.
The benefit to you is that certified forage products can be fed on National (USFS and BLM) lands, without the risk of spreading unwanted noxious weeds which squeeze out other naturally occurring vegetation. Certified Noxious Weed Free products are required on Federal lands. Each state’s requirement on Noxious Weed Free Forage differs, so please check with your state’s Department of Agriculture for specific details.
The weed free forage program was initiated to meet the demand for weed free products and prevent the spread of invasive plant species throughout North America. Certain state and federal government agencies have forage restrictions on where noxious weed free forages are required.
All Standlee forage products that are labeled noxious weed free have been field inspected by the standards of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and NAISMA. Select Standlee Premium Western Forage® products are Certified Noxious Weed Free in compliance with the North American Invasive Species Management Association program. Standlee Premium Western Forage® certified bagged products include Alfalfa Cubes and Timothy Grass Pellets. Standlee also has certified compressed bales of Alfalfa, Timothy Grass and Straw, as well as certified Grab & Go® compressed bales of Alfalfa and Straw.
Compressed bales will have a yellow band and bagged products will have the Idaho Department of Ag logo in the lower center on the front of the bag.
Is your forage forest friendly?
By Dr. Tania Cubitt
Standlee Nutritional Expert
Certified Noxious Weed Free Standlee Products:
1: Using certified hay for horses - Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist - University of Minnesota Extension
NOXIOUS WEED FREE FORAGE AND STRAW (NWFF&S) CERTIFICATION PROGRAM - Invasive Species of Idaho