Cereals has been on this week, and as such the spotlight is shining on new Research and Development projects that are running (as well as lots of shiny new kit to look at!). One area within cereal production that is being targeted in terms of research is the grass weed blackgrass.
Blackgrass can seriously reduce crop yields through competition for nutrients especially nitrogen. The tillering capacity and the competitiveness ability of blackgrass depends greatly on the vigour of the crop. Recent research from Rothamsted has advocated that very high levels of control are needed with fields to prevent black grass populations increasing. In winter wheat grown in a non inversion tillage system, control levels of 97% are needed, to prevent blackgrass population increases.
Within conventional farming systems, herbicides are considered the primary method of control, however even in these systems where chemicals are the main control strategy for controlling blackgrass there is a growing incidence of herbicide resistant blackgrass.
Herbicide resistant blackgrass is very widespread in the UK and has been confirmed on over 2,000 farms in 31 counties of England. Grass weed control is critically dependent on only 4 herbicide classes within conventional arable systems. With little prospect of new herbicides in the near future, non chemical control measures are increasingly important in combatting resistance, by reducing the reliance on post emergence herbicides.
HGCA have been showcasing some of their research proposals at Cereals. One of their projects (which also helpfully fits into our theme this month here at FCCT), is the use of cover crops to help with blackgrass control.
HGCA are investigating whether cover crops could provide growers with a useful cultural control option for blackgrass. The adoption of this approach will need a better understanding of the agronomy and associated economic and environmental benefits of using cover crops. This research will hopefully provide answers to this and see what the effect is in terms of weed control.
Read more about the project here.
Agrovista and Bayer Crop Science are also joining forces on a new initiative entitled Project Lamport which aims to look at different developmental approaches to help in the constant battle to control blackgrass. This project is looking at seven different rotational systems, incorporating spring and winter cropping as well as the use of autumn cover crops. The project will consider the nutritional and soil conditioning benefits that come with the inclusion of cover crops in the rotation.
Read more about Project Lamport here.
FCCT will keep you up to date on the results of these two studies as they are released.