A group of UK farmers is participating in a ground-breaking analysis challenge to test the effectiveness of harvest weed seed management models developed by a Canadian firm.
This non-chemical strategy has proved profitable in controlling grassweed issues in different international locations like Australia.
The farmer-led challenge will see three Redekop seed management models (SCU) imported from Canada, fitted to combines and examined this harvest, with outcomes carefully monitored by Niab weed scientists.
The Redekop SCU is used throughout Canada, the US and Australia, and mills the chaff to a positive mud, destroying as much as 98% of harvested weed seeds, similar to meadow brome and ryegrass (see “How harvest weed seed management works”, under).
See additionally: How to deal with brome and cease it turning into the brand new blackgrass
The UK trial was initiated by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (Bofin), a gaggle of greater than 200 farmers and scientists who perform on-farm trials, eager to see whether or not the unit would add a worthwhile, non-chemical possibility to manage right here within the UK.
“Harvest weed seed management isn’t at the moment thought of as an possibility by UK growers,” says Niab senior trials supervisor Will Smith.
“But it may supply a worthwhile various management methodology, particularly of herbicide-resistant weeds.
“Low-disturbance techniques are at the moment extremely reliant on glyphosate, and the SCU helps by stopping viable weed seeds from reaching the soil floor.
“So the info we’re capturing and the on-farm follow the farmers concerned will be co-designing will develop into critically vital if glyphosate loses its approval.”
The trial was initiated after Bofin and Niab have been approached by Redekop importer Oria Agriculture.
How harvest weed seed management works
Australian farmer Ray Harrington is extensively credited with pioneering a system that takes combine chaff and mills it to make sure weed seeds are unviable.
Initial variations of the Harrington Seed Destructor comprised an independently powered cart, towed behind the combine. Interest took off as Australian growers skilled rising issues with glyphosate-resistant ryegrass.
“It was a fantastic step ahead, however a tow-behind cart with a second engine was a difficult idea for adoption,” says Redekop co-owner and president Trevor Thiessen.
The firm, primarily based in Saskatoon, Canada, was reaching world success with its MAV straw chopper and set its sights on a seed management unit to enhance it, and a complete residue administration system for growers.
“We’d already put vital work into growing residue administration techniques, so regarded to design a mill that was as seamless as doable – one which was straightforward on, straightforward off, so growers may deliver it out and in of play with the minimal of fuss,” he says.
The mill itself is a step on from an built-in unit developed by researchers on the University of South Australia, funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
“Researchers discovered when you hit a weed seed exhausting sufficient 4 occasions, it renders it unviable,” explains Mr Thiessen.
“Our design operates at 2,850rpm, passing the chaff at 400kph by way of two rotary sections of columns and three stationary sections. The tungsten-carbide coated mills are reversible to make sure a protracted life.”
Independent testing has discovered this kills as much as 98% of the weed seed that passes by way of it.
“Like all mills, there’s an influence requirement that may cut back combine pace by 10-12%. In drier circumstances this can be nearer to five%. It requires as much as 85hp within the kind of circumstances and degree of crop residue typical in UK cereal crops.”
Redekop SCU fitted to Case IH 7230 combine © Will Smith
Developed first for John Deere combines, models are additionally now accessible for newer Case IH, New Holland and Claas fashions and will be retrofitted.
Like the MAV chopper, it spreads residue throughout the complete combine cut-width, though operates independently, so chaff will be milled and straw swathed, or vice versa, for instance.
“The SCU is a instrument farmers can use to future-proof their weed management system, as herbicide resistance grows and chemistry loses its approval to be used.
“Farmers who use it say it’s a instrument that may assist them get on high of a weed drawback earlier than it will get on high of them,” concludes Mr Thiessen.
“We’ve seen the success of this expertise in different places world wide and we’re eager to guage its effectiveness within the UK.
“This 12 months, we will see a major enhance of weed seed mills on combines in Europe, which is pushed by the necessity to discover various weed administration options,” explains Oria’s Danea Armstrong.
The idea was put to Bofin members and powerful curiosity got here again from farmers eager to participate in an on-farm trial.
“We put in a bid for Defra/UKRI funding for a challenge below the Farming Innovation Pathways programme, however have been unsuccessful.
“However, such was the curiosity within the trial, and because of the calibre of the farmers who got here ahead, we determined to proceed anyway.”
Three farmers have been chosen with suitable combines and a weed spectrum seemingly to provide helpful outcomes.
Jake Freestone of Overbury Enterprises, in Worcestershire, is having his new John Deere S790 combine fitted with the unit to deal with a difficult drawback with meadow brome.
In Suffolk, Adam Driver has discovered his Claas Lexion 8800 places blackgrass seed into its chaff strains, so outcomes from the SCU will be monitored carefully to gauge the distinction it makes.
For Ted Holmes, Velcourt farm supervisor in Warwickshire, ryegrass is grassweed enemy primary.
“We have rising ranges of resistance, and it’s develop into an actual problem,” he says.
“We’ve regarded carefully at harvest weed seed management, however there merely aren’t sufficient techniques on trial within the UK but to provide us a good suggestion of the management we may obtain.
“So we leapt on the probability to be concerned on this trial.” He operates a New Holland CR9.90.
This eager curiosity was widespread among the many dozens of different growers who got here ahead.
They have been introduced collectively right into a “data cluster”, co-ordinated by Bofin, of greater than 50 farmers, weed scientists and data alternate managers who met at an introductory webinar.
The group will be given common updates, will share expertise and assist form the challenge, which can run for 2 years, relying on first-year outcomes.
Niab has carried out preliminary work with a Redekop SCU fitted to the Case IH 7230 combine utilized by its farm close to Cambridge throughout harvest 2021.
A 2ha subject of Extase winter wheat infested with meadow brome and wild oats was chosen for the trial, says Mr Smith.
“There was fairly a excessive burden of meadow brome that may have affected yield. We needed to work out not simply how efficient the SCU was, however how a lot of the weed seed produced within the standing crop was passing by way of to the mill.”
He explains that meadow brome is a grassweed that sheds comparatively little seed earlier than harvest.
“Ryegrass is analogous and little or no information exists on both for the way a lot of the seed that’s shed early is viable. Blackgrass tends to shed most of its seed earlier than wheat is lower, nevertheless.”
Weed panicles have been counted in a test space earlier than harvest, with trays positioned within the standing crop to evaluate the proportion shed.
Header losses have been equally assessed, and weed seeds discovered within the grain pattern have been counted.
“Based on these assessments, we calculated that, on common, 77% of the seeds have been harvested and handed by way of the mill, though harvest was delayed because of climate.
“If the date was supreme, we’d anticipate this determine to be increased, however there’s all the time a proportion you’ll by no means seize” he factors out.
Finally, an evaluation was manufactured from weed seedlings that germinated within the following crop.
“Overall, we discovered the SCU decreased the inhabitants by 83%,” studies Mr Smith.
“That signifies the mill truly captures extra viable seed than the panicle counts would counsel, and that is one space we’re eager to have a look at in additional element within the new challenge.”
This summer season
This harvest, the intention is to test the SCU in a minimum of three fields of winter wheat at every farm to seize a variety of harvest dates and a wealthy dataset.
Weeds will be assessed at 4 timings – a month earlier than harvest, at harvest itself, then the stubble will be assessed in addition to the next crop after autumn herbicide functions.
“It’s not simply in regards to the information, although,” he says.
“A key a part of the challenge will be to assemble the farmers’ views on utilizing the seed mill – whether or not it holds harvest up, any technical issues, and the impact on energy and gasoline use, for example.
“There’s additionally a concept that it might assist no-till techniques because it reduces the danger of increase a big, shallow weed seedbank.
“This is the place interplay with the data cluster will be key to tease out and discover parts of a really completely different strategy to controlling grassweeds,” says Mr Smith.
- For extra on the weed seed destruction data cluster, which is free to hitch, go to bofin.org.uk
Farmers to trial ‘slug-resistant’ wheat
Farmers have been invited to participate in a trial of wheat that could be immune to slugs.
Researchers at John Innes Centre have recognized the potential trait in considered one of a various assortment of landrace wheats at the moment being screened for properties of curiosity.
“We determined to display a number of the Watkins materials for slug resistance as this was recognized as a precedence,” says Simon Griffiths of the John Innes Centre, who leads one of many work packages of the UKRI-funded Designing Future Wheat (DFW) programme.
© Simon Griffiths
Using a set of selection chambers that permits slugs to decide on at random varieties they wish to graze and people they like to keep away from, there was one wheat that stood out as constantly spurned – Watkins 788.
“We don’t know but whether or not this wheat really resists slugs or whether or not they’d nonetheless eat it in a subject scenario the place there’s no different selection,” explains Prof Griffiths.
The idea was put to Bofin members in 2020 and appreciable curiosity got here again in conducting trials of 0.4ha plots of the wheat – the world required to offer the optimum foraging distance to check the slugs’ behaviour.
“On the power of this preliminary curiosity, we’ve spent the previous two years multiplying up sufficient seed, and we’re now able to go,” he says.
The trials will begin this autumn, carefully monitored by John Innes Centre entomologists.
“If the wheat really resists slugs, this will be a really worthwhile trait to pinpoint and convey into UK breeding programmes,” he provides.
“Long-term funding from Defra and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council [BBSRC] have given us the instruments we have to establish the genetic foundation of worthwhile pest resistance similar to this.”
Although this will take a few years, farmers and scientists will be invited right into a Bofin data cluster, retaining them carefully concerned within the challenge.
The intention will be to work with scientists to realize an perception into slug behaviour within the subject and test methods that will fight the pest along with genetic resilience.
Actual trials undertaken will be co-designed and determined by the farmers within the data cluster, factors out Prof Griffiths.
“The intention is to develop understanding of farming techniques concurrently growing the following technology of wheats,” he explains.
“This is a much more sustainable strategy than conventional plant breeding the place the 2 are developed in isolation.
“It’s made doable by way of the introduction of recent plant-breeding strategies that significantly shorten the timespan it takes to deliver a brand new trait to market.”