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Smart grazing – Feasibility study on weed control in corn fields by sheep


Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz

Federal State

Lower Saxony and Bremen


Calenberger Straße 2
30169 Hannover

Website: External link to the authority

Project Title

Smart grazing – Feasibility study on weed control in corn fields by sheep

Project description

Aim of the feasibility study is to control crop weeds with sheep under a low grazing intensity.
Following the theory of feeding type classification for ruminants (browsers-intermediates-grazers) sheep do not like to feed on one plant species. They like to select different plants.
This basis will be the subject of a trial on organically managed corn fields. The sheep should eat weeds and only a little corn plants. In the two-year trial, sheep will take over weed control by grazing on corn fields in addition to tillage. For this purpose, the optimal grazing time as well as stocking rate will be determined on three test plots. Sheep can be used in corn crops when they are no longer passable with machinery. The project offers new perspectives for sheep farming. The integration of "herbivorous specialists" into arable farming. 


Status of the report

2024-07-05 13:12:30

Results focusing on practiceorientation

In two consecutive years (2021/2022) sheep were kept in three different maize fields close to Hannover, Germany. During the ‘‘grazing” period the areas were inspected weekly, and a botanical evaluation documented which plants were fed and whether and how the maize was damaged by the sheep.
Sheep grazing behaviour varied in the different fields which showed a very varied weed growth in mass and in diversity.
Main weeds were: Echinochloa crus-galli, Chenopodium album, Persicaria maculosa, Datura, Solanum nigrum and Fallopia convolvulus. The sheep mainly showed an intake of: Echinochloa crus-galli, Chenopodium album and different kinds of Persicaria maculosa. The growth of weed between the rows was also considerably reduced as the sheep trampled the plants growing there. The sheep only showed interest in the lowest maize leaves, but not in leaves or cobs above their nose level (110 cm). Single maize plants were bent by the movement of the sheep.
Weed control only w

Key words

Outdoor horticulture and woody crops (incl. viticulture, olives, fruit, ornamentals)

Main funding source

Rural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)

OG contact information

Tierarztpraxis Tegtmeyer
Resser Straße 1 A
30855 Langenhagen

Phone: 0160/3696256

Email: mail@tierarztpraxis-tegtmeyer.de

Type of OG partners

  • Farmer
  • Advisor
  • Researcher

Begin of project


Project status


Total budget applied for in EUR


Link 1

project website of EIP Lower Saxony



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