30 October 2001
Should I now plough my heavy blackgrass burden?
I am a farmer in Kent. My land is a mixture of light land on one side of the farm, and heavy clay on the other. Last year, with the wet autumn, the sprayer would not go near the field. As a result, weeds, especially blackgrass, have really got going.
How can I get rid of these weeds without using too many sprays, and should I definitely plough, for at least this year (at the moment the field is in untouched stubble).
My advice would be to avoid lo-till if you have a grass weed problem unless you are prepared to work at the system.
Conventional tillage will keep the lid on the problem, but in my opinion will never get rid of it. But a well managed min-till system, using effective stale seed beds, rotating cereals with broadleaved crops and the occasional spring sown crop, can go a long way to getting the problem back to manageable levels again.
It takes time and patience. Further information on the subject is available from the Soil Management Initiative (SMI).
Ask for A Guide to Managing Crop Establishment. It covers weed control and gives detailed case studies of farms where lo-till has been used to overcome grass weed problems.
You could also try Revised Guidelines for Preventing and Managing Herbicide-Resistant Grass Weeds on the Home Grown Cereals Authority website.
Spray off with glyphosate & plough. Its too late to start min-tilling and waiting for a greening up.