Grass weed control and minimum-tillage under investigation

Many farmers can no doubt see the benefits of minimum-tillage practices on their farms. However, like most, these practices come with both positives and negatives.

Grass weeds can become a big issue for many farmers using these practices and Teagasc has recently launched a project to investigate the control of grass weeds in these systems.

The project, which is titled Enable Conservation Tillage (ECT), aims to promote the wider adoption of sustainable conservation tillage systems.

The project which will be carried out over five years will work with farmers to solve problems and co-design solutions in order to help with the adoption of conservation agriculture on tillage farms.

Head of crops knowledge transfer at Teagasc, Michael Hennessey stated: “This project is extremely important for Ireland to help halt, or reverse the spread of highly damaging grass weeds such as black grass and other herbicide resistant grass weeds.

At the core of this project is a network of ten focus farms spread across the main tillage area, from Co. Louth to Co. Cork, which will enable local farmers to see first-hand how grass weed control can be achieved in different crop establishment systems.

Jimmy Staples has been appointed as the advisor on the project. Jimmy added that identifying these weeds accurately is extremely important.

“The importance of identifying these weeds and understanding their biology, i.e. how and when these weeds germinate and grow, cannot be over-stated,” explained Jimmy.

Tillage farmers, whether winter or spring cropping, should regularly inspect fields to spot and identify weeds which are not being controlled in the lead up to harvest 2019.

“It is only then the farmer can prepare and carry out appropriate actions to combat the problem post-harvest,” he added.

Integrated pest management (IPM) will play a large role in the project and an emphasis will be placed on cultural control methods.

Farmer engagement will be key to sharing this research and events will be held over the course of the project. The Teagasc Spring Tillage Seminars in January will be held across the country and provide information on the project.