Crop Establishment continued from page 21

reduce head counts by 80-94%. Where all blackgrass is in the seedbank, inverting the soil can produce 34-40% control. “Where you’ve good control

this year, with little fresh seed on the surface, direct drilling the next crop is likely to produce the greatest control. By keep- ing blackgrass seed deep within the soil profile for longer, you’ll reduce germination and let the seed-bank degrade.”

Winter bean establishment helps boost farm margins


John Cussans: grass weeds are developing resistance

Spring cropping can signifi- cantly reduce blackgrass popula- tions – and delaying drilling until mid-March can reduce popula- tions further still. The difference between planting in mid-Febru- ary and mid-April was around 80 plants/m².

But there is a trade-off with crop performance, says Mr Cus- sans. The sweet spot is around mid-March, where blackgrass seedling were reduced to near- ly 40 plants/m2

with spring oats

yielding nearly 6t/ha and spring barley, 6.5t/ha.

“Not all grass-weeds are as af- fected by spring cropping though – Italian rye-grass, bromes and wild oats, for example. Yes, there are reduction of plants in the crop, but the overall effect isn’t as pro- found as it is with blackgrass.”

Cost-effective method “Using wide spacings, narrow points and a drilling depth of 3in, we get good establishment and, compared with the previ- ous plough-based system which involved a lot of cultivations, it’s a very cost-effective way to estab- lish the crop.

incolnshire farm manag- er Dean Broadberry says he has cut his cultivation costs and reduced weed germina- tion by completely changing the establishment system for winter beans. The new system is also bene- fiting the following winter wheat crop, says Mr Broadberry, who farms some 2500ha of combinable crops, vining peas and sugar beet on predominantly heavy clay soils at the Halverhome Farm Partner- ship, near Sleaford. With limited options on heavy

land, 300ha of winter beans are a key part of the ro- tation as an alterna- tive break crop to oil- seed rape. In addition to feed, returns are im- proving with the crop also grown for human consumption, fish food and seed.

The aim is to start drilling win- ter beans in mid-October follow- ing winter wheat. To avoid com- paction – a key issue for the crop – land is subsoiled first. “We then direct drill into the subsoiled stub- ble with a Horsch Sprinter tine drill,” says Mr Broadberry.

+ pendimethalin) is included in a pre-emergence tank mix to control a range of broad-leaved weeds, with some effect on grass weeds too. Kerb Flo 500 (propyzam- ide) for blackgrass and Centium (clomazone) are also included. “Centium is key to controlling

cleavers and we have always had good results,” adds Mr Broadber- ry.

“However by disturbing less soil at drilling with the new es- tablishment system, this reduc- es the weed profile which in turn helps the herbicides.”

Bean grower, Dean Broadberry

“Sowing into stubble provides minimal soil disturbance, less weed seed germination and a nice level seedbed. And the knock-on effect means a reduction in com- paction and the opportunity to cultivate less ahead of the fol- lowing winter wheat crop.” The ability of beans to provide a nitrogen-fixing boost to the fol- lowing winter wheat crop is a bo- nus when establishing following crops of winter wheat. The im- provement in soil structure is a clear benefit too, says Mr Broad- berry.

Typically Nirvana (imazamox

Limited options A pre-emergence spray for win- ter beans is also key as post-emer- gence options are limited to broad-leaved weed control only. Basagran (bentazone) is some- times applied but it can cause crop damage, explains Mr Broadberry. “The more you can target your pre-em with a reliable tank mix to help crops get away quickly and achieve canopy cover as soon as possible, the better,” he adds. Changing the winter bean es- tablishment system and reducing cultivations has helped with the crop’s overall profitability and is now starting to deliver knock-on benefits on the margins achieved by the next crop of winter wheat. “Importantly, it has also meant we can continue to take the pres- sure off herbicides by maintaining their efficacy and longevity, pre- venting the build up of weed tol- erance or resistance on our land.”

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