Black-grass Cultural Control Trials

On Thursday 2nd December 2021, farmers and agronomists from the River Beult and Stour catchments met at Hothfield Village Hall to discuss cultural control of black-grass. They then visited Bockhanger Farm, hosted by Andy Howard, to learn more about the trial that has been taking place on his farm.

NP. Andy is a regenerative farmer and has been working in partnership with Southern Water to grow winter beans after a catch crop, with and without a pre-emergent application of propyzamide and clomazone. He has also intercropped oats with winter beans to see if they will reduce black-grass levels. All of the trial strips have established well and we look forward to seeing more in the spring.

Rob Purvis from Agrovista has worked as an agronomist for 30 years in Kent. Rob has been working closely with Project Lamport, a heavy land trial site near Market Harborough in the East Midlands. The site has hosted black-grass trials for the past nine years. The site was offered to Agrovista by the farmer because of its unsustainable levels of black-grass.

NP. Rob provided some key findings from this work with Project Lamport. The key message is that spring cropping reduced black grass by 88%. This is compared to a reduction of 70 – 80% from fallowing or grass leys and 69% from ploughing. The Lamport team have combined winter cover crops with direct-drilled spring crops. This has created a large reduction in black grass levels and increased spring crop yields. The project’s aim is to develop a system that allows cultural control of grassweeds, whilst still growing a profitable crop.

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