10 September 1999


LOW ground pressure equipment can be a life saver when it comes to controlling grass weeds in a wet autumn, says a Glos-based agronomist. Last year it saved growers 15-50% on herbicide costs.

It may seem all too obvious, but if you cant apply your herbicide it wont work, says Masstocks Richard Crew, who works out of A Nichols (Cow Mills) at Chipping Sodbury.

"Getting product on is the key. And in a wet autumn like 1998, having access to a low ground pressure sprayer can make all the difference, although it may mean bringing in a contractor.

"Autumn residuals are the essential building block in a cost-effective herbicide programme, and tackling weeds early post-emergence ensures growers get longest activity and best control.

"Very often this can reduce or even cut out a spring herbicide.

"Compared with 1997/98, when spraying had to be left to the spring, this season we saved 15-50% by employing a contractor to apply autumn ipu/pendimethalin mixtures."

All herbicides are at risk from poor timing, warns Mr Crew. "Contact blackgrass materials are particularly susceptible to poorer control, especially where there is resistance."

Low ground pressure equipment has proved its value in two of the past three years, he says. "Who knows if it will be required this autumn? Few farms can justify capital outlay on machinery that may not be used. So using contractors is often the preferred route."

Mixed arable and dairy farms are most likely to appreciate an lgp visit, he says. That is because the land is usually wetter, and late harvested maize and muck spreading mean cereals are often drilled late into difficult conditions.

Cost is always a consideration. But last years exercise, when Cyanamid subsidised the operation to highlight its potential, was well received. "Obviously the farmers involved did not need much encouragement to spend the firms money, but it clearly demonstrated the importance of autumn timing and not leaving spraying to the spring.

Mr Crews only caution is that once fields become wet enough to require an lgp approach more care is needed with product choice to avoid herbicide leaching. "Pendimethalin fits the bill very well." Low water volumes help minimise weigh, he adds. &#42

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