Interactive arable weed control trials launched BASF has launched a series of field-scale on-farm trials to deliver practical advice to growers to combat a range of difficult grass weeds. other farmers in similar situations. “We are encouraging farmers to try the advice and feed back their experiences, to help us understand how various ideas work under a wide range of conditions.”
BASF campaign manager Ruth Stanley.
Several farmers will be taking part in the trials, which aim to examine the whole agronomic approach to weed control and to cost out various measures. The programme will be supported by a panel of well-known experts who will offer advice on all aspects of cultural and chemical control. The weed control trials are the latest addition to BASF’s Arable Weed Control programme, part of the company’s Real Results Circle, a UK-wide agricultural knowledge network. “Controlling weeds is no longer just about chemistry,” says BASF campaign manager Ruth Stanley. “We need a fully integrated cultural control programme working alongside a robust chemical programme to maintain control. “We have picked a small number of farmers from different areas of the country that have different weed issues. “The aim is to provide practical advice through our expert panel that the farmers can implement on their own farms. We will monitor results and report on the findings, to help
Mike Hambly, who farms 200ha at Westcott Barton, near Callington in Cornwall, is one of the trial farmers. In the past everything has been ploughed and weed control has been relatively cheap, says Mr Hambly. “I’ve been very fortunate – I haven’t had to deal with the scourge and cost of black-grass. However, bromes are increasing. Rye brome particularly is super competitive.” The farm operates a four-year rotation – winter OSR, winter wheat, winter oats then winter barley. “We only have limited chemistry to control weeds in winter oats, but we can grow them and sell them, and they add up to 0.75t/ha on the following barley,” he says. He has bought a Sumo Trio to save time and reduce cultivation costs, using it ahead of OSR and wheat.
This has worked well, but brome is building. Spring-applied graminicides have helped in wheat, and he has bought an Avadex (tri-allate) applicator to boost control in wheat and barley. The farm receives 60in annual average rainfall, so delayed drilling and spring crops are not a consideration, says Mr Hambly.
Panel advice The panel advises avoiding consecutive ploughing, which risks bringing viable seeds back to the surface layers, instead switching to one year in four ahead of oats. With no plough pan, they advise using the Sumo Trio well above plough depth, using low-disturbance tines, and reducing disc depth from 75–50mm, to help avoid bringing weed seeds to the surface. Stopping the seed source is key, they agree. Sowing a competitive ryegrass mix into the hedge bottom would reduce the ingress of brome. The trial field is going into winter oats this season. The panel agree stubble cleaning with glyphosate is
a priority, using 100-litres/ha water at 12kph maximum and 50cm boom height. Ploughing should be carried out at low speed using a narrow furrow width (12in), rather than the 16in farm standard, to bury trash and weed seeds effectively. This should be followed with the farm’s Simba Unipress (tines/levelling board/press rings), working no deeper than 2in, then drilled and rolled with existing equipment (Vaderstad Rapid). Correct tyre pressures and ballast with both these secondary operations is key. Chemical recommendations – off-label (EAMU) approvals – will be decided in-season. Before harvest, the panel advises spraying glyphosate on a narrow strip between crop and compliance strip to prevent viable brome seeds being spread by the combine. Mr Hambly says it has been a fascinating exercise so far. “A lot of other people in the area have a similar problem – they too will be very interested to find out what the solutions are.” ■
Expert panel top tips: • Competitive crops are key • Good drainage/aerobic soils are vital • Use soil analysis to identify nutrient need • Rotate cultivations, target working depths, avoid regular inversion • Use correct tyre pressures to avoid weed germination through wheel • • • • •
slip/soil disturbance and to reduce eradication requirement Good ploughing is valuable. But consider weed seed presence in the soil profile and viablity Stubble management and stale seedbeds are key strategies Consider fallow, delayed drilling, change of species (eg hybrid barley), extended rotations including spring crops Smooth seedbeds, low wind speeds, low forward speeds, low boom (50cm) and angled nozzles aid even distribution of herbicides Use quality chemical products with different modes of action at the right rate
Cornish grower Mike Hambly.
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