A new initiative by Bayer CropScience aims to help growers achieve a better understanding of whole-farm approaches to weed control.

“Weed Focus” builds on the company’s web-based “Weed spotter” and will show how cultural, agronomic and chemical methods can be used to build sustainable control strategies, says the firm’s herbicide manager, Tim Holt.

“There are no new modes of action on the horizon, so we need to consider anything that can help keep existing products working as long as possible,” he says.

“We want to get the industry thinking and talking about the current and future impact of weeds on cereal production, and ensure growers and advisers make decisions now that will ensure crop production remains viable in the long term.”

A series of conferences, workshops and open days will cover all aspects of weed control, including yield and economic impact, control methods, headland and margin stewardship, plus information on specific beneficial weeds, he explains.

“In field margins, for instance, we may want to kill all brome and cleavers, but it may be better to leave a few of these species to help insects and birds.

Fat hen and all the knotgrass/redshank family are also particularly useful species.”

The increasing cost of controlling blackgrass, combined with pressure on combinable crop margins, is another reason for trying to protect existing chemistry, Mr Holt adds.

“For example, we’ll highlight the benefits of using fallow for blackgrass control.”

The Weed Focus events will not focus exclusively on Bayer products, and external, independent advisers, such as Rothamsted’s John Cussans, will be involved to provide technical and scientific advice, Mr Holt points out.

No dates have yet been finalised for the various activities, but further information will be posted on the Bayer website, www.bayercropscience.co.uk 

paul.spackman@rbi.co.uk