Cleared fields allow stale seedbed to be created

Straw will be easily cleared from many fields this year as yields are back dramatically in many areas and once the straw is removed it’s time to start kicking a plan for next season into action.

Some will be planting winter oilseed rape, others cover crops, while for some it may be time to tackle some grass weed issues.

The herbicide can is the last line of defence when it comes to grass weeds. Once fields are cleared stubbles can be cultivated and a stale seedbed created.

Stale seedbeds have been common practice in Ireland for a long time.

Teagasc recently offered some advice to farmers to ensure that they are getting the most out of the technique.

Teagasc is advising farmers to cultivate no deeper than 2cm and states that this will encourage 80-90% of sterile brome and black-grass seed to germinate.

Deep cultivations can result in dormancy in some weed seeds and so germination may be delayed until next season.

Weeds behave differently. For example, meadow brome seeds need to be exposed to light to break dormancy, while sterile brome needs to be covered with soil to break dormancy.

Teagasc has also stated that carrying out two to three cultivations may be an option where catch crops are not planted.

Glyphosate should then be applied before planting the next crop.

Headlands should also be cultivated, but this should be carried out last to avoid spreading weeds into the field.