Tailored control is cost-effective
By Andrew Swallow
A TAILORED approach to spring cereal herbicides is helping one west Midlands farmer tackle growing weed problems without adding to costs.
Charles Dakin grows 257ha (635 acres) of winter wheat, winter barley, spring and winter linseed, oilseed rape and sugar beet at Haughton Hill Farm, near Shifnal, Shropshire.
Beet and rape are the main breaks on light and heavy land respectively – each with its own weed headaches.
In the beet, fools parsley appeared in the corner of one field two years ago and has now spread across the whole farm. It is difficult to control, adding up to £60/ha (£24/acre) to the beet herbicide bill, says Mr Dakin.
In oilseed rape, cleavers are the main target. "You cant find a field thats free of cleavers now," says Profarma agronomist Arthur Pea-cham. "They seem to be getting worse and worse."
Spring cereal herbicide choice is now tailored to each situation to give good control for under £30/ha (£12/acre).
"Historically we used Javelin (isoproturon + diflufenican), but found it was becoming too expensive at full rate and wasnt doing the job," says Mr Dakin.
The strategy now starts with annual meadowgrass control in the autumn using 1 litre/ha Sabre (isoproturon) and 0.75 litre/ha Panther (isoproturon + diflufenican). That checks and sensitises cleavers, so cutting spring costs.
Where oilseed rape is the break, half rate Capture (diflufenican + ioxynil + bromoxynil) is used with half rate Eagle (amidosulfuron). Only if cleavers are particularly large are Eagle rates increased.
Where sugar beet is the break, the spring spray is half rate Teal (bromoxynil + ioxynil + triasulfuron) with half rate Capture. Mineral oil enhances Teals activity, but further rate cutting is unlikely, notes Mr Peacham. "Rates are already at rock-bottom. To go any lower would be playing with fire."
However, this years forward crops could mean problems for Teal. Application is normally delayed until April to catch late emerging fools parsley, but crops may pass the growth stage 31 cut-off before then, Mr Peacham notes.
If crops are too forward, Eagle will be used instead. It still gives acceptable fools parsley control, says Mr Peacham.
• Profarmas Select Agronomy trials run on sites chosen to highlight specific problems around the country. Profarma agronomists then tailor findings to individual farms. "On land lighter than Haughton Farm pendi-methalin and trifluralin would feature, for example," Mr Peacham notes.
Problem weeds to control this spring? Charles Dakin and Arthur Peacham plan field- by-field solutions at Haughton Hill Farm, Shropshire.
SPRING WEED CONTROL
• Fools parsley and cleavers main targets, plus AMG.
• Autumn isoproturon mix allows spring broad-leaved rate cuts.
• £30/ha total cost.