Minimum tillage is showing signs of falling popularity among some wheat growers, according to results from one survey.
ProCam’s 4cast agronomy survey found that the amount of winter wheat established by non-plough methods fell from 46% in 2004 to 44% last year – but remains well above the 17% in 2000.
Within the top 25% of producers, minimum tillage is used on over 60% of wheat fields, but this is also likely to fall over the next three years, said the firm’s Nick Myers.
Tighter financial margins limiting investment in new machinery and the higher herbicide costs under min-till systems are key reasons for the decline, he said.
Average herbicide costs over the last five years are £10/ha higher in min-till systems, compared to traditional cultivation, the survey found.
“Minimum tillage is still a valid cultivation method, but growers must accept the higher herbicide costs involved.
“If you are using non-plough establishment methods, you must make full use of cultural controls, adjusting sowing dates, using stale seedbeds and non-selective herbicides to reduce costs and increase overall weed control,” he said.