Field Herbs

Field Herbs

from Hunter’s Guide to Grasses Clovers and Weeds
by Peter J.P. Hunter

Field Herbs

Poterium sanguisorba • Perennial

This plant was recommended by James Hunter of great value for sheepgrazing, and for its deep-rooting, drought-resisting, and medicinal qualities. It thrives on any land, but more particularly on dry soils. It is said to give an agreeable flavour to butter, and cows eat it freely; it is also beneficial in the case of sheep affected by scour. Its deep-rooting, drought-resisting qualities secure for it an important place in the Clifton Park System. 3 lb. to 4 lb. per acre is the quantity usually sown with grass mixtures. 54,000 seeds per lb.

Field Herbs

Cichorium intybus • Perennial

Chicory forms one of the most important constituents in the mixtures used in the Clifton Park System as, in addition to its great value as one of the most productive of fodder plants, its roots have the remarkable quality of penetrating and breaking up the sub-soil to a depth of 3 to 4 feet. Drawing its supplies of moisture from a great depth it thrives during extreme drought, while it succeeds equally well in a wet season. Sheep, cattle and horses are all fond of it, and do well upon it. If sown alone use 15 lb. per acre broadcast; 10 lb. in drills, at one foot apart; or 2 to 4 lb. in grass seed mixtures.

It is important that the robust growth of Chicory should be kept in check by close grazing. If this is done, the full benefit will be obtained and the pasture will not be marred by unsightly strong growing stems. Should the field be intended for hay, grazing prior to shutting up will be necessary, as a luxuriant growth of Chicory in a wet season will render the hay difficult to ‘win’. 335,000 seeds per lb.

Field Herbs

Plantago lanceolata • Perennial
Known also as English Plantain and Buckhorn

Ribgrass growing in the best natural pastures is only a weed and should not have been sown. However, on poor, light, elevated situations it has considerable use. It produces a bulk of herbage. In pastures its habit of growth is abundant but it occupies too much space and poaches on the grass growing near it. Ribgrass contains so much water that when made into hay it loses more weight than any other foliage plant, however, the leaves have a high mineral value and the plant is very persistent. 420,000 seeds per lb.

Field Herbs

Achillea millefolium • Perennial
Known also as Millfoil and Thousand Leaf

Thrives in the poorest and driest soils, as well as those that are heavy and wet. Yarrow is of great value in the Clifton Park System on account of the mass of rootage it produces, and this applies generally. It will stand fierce drought better than any other field plant. Unfortunately it is a very expensive seed, but as there are 3,500,000 seeds per lb., a quarter of a lb. to the acre is often enough. It grows up to 18 inches in height. The flowers look very like others in the daisy family except they are very small. It flowers between June and August. Its medicinal properties have been recognised since time began.

Field Herbs

The Clifton Park System of Farming and Laying Down Land to Grass

A Guide to Landlords, Tenants and Land Legislators

by Robert H. Elliot

A treatise on organic agriculture techniques originally written in 1882. A wonderful summary of techniques that would come to be known as biodynamics.

“Elliot developed a system of laying down land to grass, dependent on little input except a complex mixture of deep-rooting pasture seeds. The pasture would be turned under after four to eight years, row crops grown until the humus levels declined to a threatening level, and then the field would be restored to grass/clover/herbal mixtures.” –

“It was no ordinary volume on grassland management, much less a textbook. It was a book with a purpose, namely, to bring to the notice of farmers, landlords, and if possible the administrators, the merits of a certain system of farming as a means of meeting the prevailing agricultural conditions. The interest of the book to present-day readers lies not so much in the detailed methods adopted by Elliot in the field, but rather in light shed on the agricultural problems of the closing years of the nineteenth century and the picture it gives of a man of highly independent mind striving to influence his fellow farmers with rather less than no support from official sources. Indeed the Board of Agriculture and the newly formed agricultural colleges were supporting the “ fertilizer and feeding stuff” approach to farming, which in Elliot’s view would be largely unnecessary under a rational system of grassland management.” –

Download the entire book as a PDF: