Last season’s dry and warmer spring highlighted the advantage of using a “programmed” approach to sugar beet weed control, said Pamela Chambers, knowledge transfer manager at Broom’s Barn research station.

A programmed approach using newer ready formulated products, such as Betanal MaxxPro or Betasana Trio, gave much better weed control compared with a conventional approach of using more standard products, such as phenmedipham, metamitron and lenacil in tank mixtures, she explained.

“Desmedipham was a very useful addition to the programme in the conditions.”

Black bindweed, in particular, was a key weed where the programmed approach was more effective, she said. “Last year it was very difficult to control black bindweed, and the conventional programmes only gave around 35-45% control, while the programmed approach was up in the 90s.”

Combined with other advantages in controlling volunteer oilseed rape and knotgrass that was enough to add around 14t/ha in yield over the conventional programmes, she said, and an extra £250-£350/ha in return after the relative cost of the herbicide programmes was taken into account.

Herbicide trials

BBRO will be undertaking a programme of 12 herbicide trials over the next three seasons, Mrs Chambers announced at the conference.

The work will look at what type of programme, from conventional, FAR, Bayer flexible, DuPont broadacre and managed approach by agronomists, is most cost effective and compare the differences between R&D products and generics, starting with phenmedipham and desmedipham products.