28 November 1997

Scots ICM cuts inputs

SEVERAL years of reduced herbicide use is possible in Scotland without increasing weed problems or cutting profits.

Latest figures from the Scottish LINK Integrated Farming Systems project show herbicide inputs were cut to 70% of a full dose on integrated crop management fields. Conventionally managed fields received 90%.

Nitrogen use was also cut by 40kg/ha (32 units/acre), says Martin Richards of the SAC. Although output fell 10% on ICM areas, lower costs and premium prices boosted gross margin to conventional levels.

Key to the success was a lack of blackgrass. Annual meadow grass, chickweed and cleavers were the main problems. Only oilseed rape received graminicide, at half rate. ICM spring barley received just 20% of the active ingredient applied to the winter variety grown on the conventional site.