Controlling infestations of Common Rush can take lots of time, money and effort. The Rush Hierarchy below works through four stages of management to achieve sustainable, long term control.
Assess the need to manage rush. Is it feasible and cost-effective?
Understand why rushes flourish and help prevent infestation.
Create less favourable conditions for rushes to grow.
Use seasonal treatments for short term control.
Assess the need to manage rush, is it feasible and cost-effective. Consider:
Land – is it naturally wet? Changing field drainage can effect water flow through land and wider the catchment.
Species – some rush provides valuable habitat for wildlife. Maybe seek to enhance this, possibly through schemes e.g. Glastir.
Permissions – if land is important habitat e.g. SSSI, then management activity may be prohibited and prior permission required.
Recognise and understand why rushes flourish, and maintain conditions to help prevent establishment.
- Soil test routinely and follow nutrient management plan.
- Maintain field drains.
- Avoid damage to sward cover and soil structure.
- Sustain good soil structure.
- Assess grazing regimes. Over grazing in winter or under grazing in spring may encourage infestation.
Introduce changes to land management techniques to create less favourable conditions for rushes to grow.
- Improve soil structure e.g. sward lifting or mole drains.
- Raise soil pH through application of lime.
- Install or clear old field drains to improve drainage.
- Check species of grass and consider surface or full re-seeding programme.
- Seek advice from a BASIS qualified adviser to establish appropriate phosphate, potash and magnesium levels.
- Adjust grazing regimes to avoid under or over grazing.
Using seasonal treatment techniques can provide a quick fix, but only handle infestations for the short term. Treatment can be used effectively with methods to solve and improve land conditions.
Mechanical - topping/cutting rushes just before seeding can knock back growth. Cutting when the plant has seeded may spread infestation further.
Chemical - careful consideration should be taken before using any herbicides as they pose a significant risk to water quality, especially in rivers abstracted from for drinking water.
Lower risk option. Uses significantly less herbicide with direct application to rush.
Risk of spray drift. Can use lower risk chemical. Only suitable for small infestations.
High risk of spray drift. Commonly uses MCPA which takes significantly longer to break down in the environment. More costly option.