In Northern Ireland land owners have a responsibility to control noxious weed such as thistles and Ragwort before they seed and spread, and maybe legally required to do so by a DAERA notice.

About control of noxious weeds

Noxious weeds are best controlled before they seed, spread and threaten agricultural land with infestation. Herbicides are an effective tool in controlling noxious weeds and to assist ensuring that pasture remains productive.

Plant Health Inspection Branch within DAERA is responsible for enforcement of the Noxious Weeds Order (NI) 1977.

Reporting noxious weeds

Anyone wishing to complain about or report noxious weeds (NW) growing on or affecting agricultural land can ring the DAERA Helpline - 0300 200 7843 and the relevant inspector will be informed.

Plant health and crop certification inspectorate's role in noxious weed control

The Plant Health and Crop Certification Inspectorate (PH&CCI)) on behalf of DAERA, enforce compliance with the provisions within the Noxious Weed Order (NI) 1997 arising from complaints where the noxious weeds (NW) listed below are growing on agricultural land or on ground likely to threaten agricultural land.

Dock weed

Wild Oats

  • Avena fatua L.
  • Avena Iudoviciana Durieu


  • Cirsium vulgar (Savi) Ten.
  • Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.


  • Rumex obtusifolius L.
  • Rumex crispus L.

Ragwort (Benweed)

  • Senecio jacobaea L.

If noxious weeds (NW) are reported and found on non-agricultural land and in the view of the inspector there is no threat to agricultural land then no enforcement or further action will be taken.

Following an assessment for NW on agricultural land and a finding that the presence of these weeds poses a threat to agricultural land, DAERA will require landowners to control these weeds. Failure to control these weeds may result in a reduction of Single Farm Payment and/or prosecution.

CCP & BHI undertake an annual awareness campaign to assist landowners understand their responsibilities. The campaign (involving the issue of press releases, poster distribution and writing to local authorities, PSNI, and other stakeholders with DAERA) aims to make the public aware of their responsibilities to control noxious weeds. In addition, a Guidance Leaflet (NW10) on weed control (giving information on what sprays to use and the best time for applications) is updated every year by CAFRE staff, and this is issued to landowners reported as having noxious weeds or to members of the public requesting advice on the control of noxious weeds.





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