Tillage management: Early harvest leaves time for stubble grubbing

The early harvest may have contributed to reduced yields, but the positives also have to be looked at. Clearing fields early allows for plenty of other work to be done and allows farmers to get ahead of themselves. Stubble grubbing should be top of the list.

Stubble grubbing is a very effective way of controlling grass weeds in cereal crops.

Tilling the soil allows weed seeds to germinate and will help to regenerate volunteer cereals as well. The practice may help to reduce your herbicide bill in the next crop.

The practice also allows a green cover to be built up for the autumn and winter where no winter crop or cover crop is planted.

Moving the soil to a depth of just 2cm will allow sterile brome and black grass to germinate, according to Teagasc.

The green cover can be sprayed with glyphosate on December 1. In a case where farmers grow crops destined for human consumption – or for seed – 25% of the ground dedicated to that particular crop can be sprayed off between October 15 and December 1.

Where the green cover is made up mostly of volunteer cereals or easy-to-control weeds, the cover may be ploughed back in.

Stubble cultivation can be particularly useful in the control of the following: bromes; canary grass; ryegrasses; and black grass.

Teagasc advises that headlands can be a large weed source and it is essential to grub the headlands; not just the centre of the field.

Stubble grubbing plays an important role in integrated pest management (IPM); be sure to note its use in your crop records and see what effect it has on your fields during the year.