Blackgrass controls remain a priority for the tillage sector

Keeping blackgrass out of Ireland remains a priority for the IFA, according to the organisation’s Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne.

“And the same holds for sterile brome, which is also becoming extremely difficult to control in cereal crops,” he said.

“There is a small amount of blackgrass in Ireland. This can be eradicated. The challenge is keeping the weed out of the country on a long-term basis.”

Dunne said that the issue of blackgrass control had been raised at the grain forum.

“We asked the Minister to ensure that all grain brought into Ireland from the UK must have a certificate of screening. In addition, straw brought in from the UK must come from farms that do not have a blackgrass problem.”

Where imported machinery is concerned, Dunne said that the same principle must hold.

We don’t think it is feasible to have every machine that comes in from the UK individually inspected. But the principle of having each imported item accompanied by a relevant certificate must be adopted.

Dunne confirmed that, as a rule of thumb, Irish merchants do not import grain seed from the UK.

“Total preference is given to Irish-produced seed. But I am aware that individual farmers may import seed from the UK. This practice cannot be stopped. But it is one that puts the entire Irish grain sector at risk.

“The reality is that grain seed produced in the UK has a certain tolerance level for weed seeds, including blackgrass and sterile brome.

Importing such seed is asking for trouble. And I would urge growers engaged in this practice to think of the long-term problems they are creating for their own businesses and the tillage sector as whole.

Dunne confirmed that no date has yet been set for a further meeting of the grain forum.

“But that’s not important. The Minister has acted unilaterally on a number of issues raised at the last get-together. And he may well be tackling the blackgrass issue on the same basis.”