• Tailor sprays to on-farm condition
• Consider mix of control strategies
• Target weeds at appropriate time
Maximising herbicide efficiency will be key to controlling weeds while reducing input costs this spring.
Soaring ag-inflation means more farmers will want to get the most from spray programmes this season, says FMC technical manager Mat Hutchings. Doing so will help optimise margins while minimising any environmental impact, he adds.
“Herbicides are fundamental for the control of spring germinating weeds in winter cereal crops, and it will be difficult to achieve optimum margins if herbicide inputs are reduced – it’s a real balancing act.”
Growers should aim to maximise spray performance using appropriate a combination of appropriate tank mixes, cultivations and by tailoring herbicide applications around seasonal conditions, says Mr Hutchings.
“By allowing growers to apply their chosen products in one pass, tank mixing reduces compaction and helps to reduce labour and fuel costs,” says Mr Hutchings, who recommends co-formulated sulfonylurea herbicides.
Co-formulation Ally Max SX – which contains metsulfuron and tribenuron – has wide weed spectrum control when applied alone but can also be used with an appropriate partner product if the weed spectrum dictates.
“It is a good choice for growers looking to maximise their herbicide performance” explains Mr Hutchings, who says growers should consider cultivations to help reduce weed pressures on top of choosing a suitable herbicide.
Choosing to direct drill, for example, could help discourage weed germination. More traditional cultivation techniques could encourage weed germination and allow stale seedbed weed control ahead of drilling.
“When growers are considering these options, they should always speak to their agronomist and decide which methods suit their land before making any significant decisions.
Growers should remain aware of unseasonable weather conditions which can significantly affect weed growth and herbicide performance..
Herbicide applications should be targeted at smaller actively growing weeds to give the most effective control, adds Mr Hutchings.
Where this is not possible growers should consider higher herbicide rates or water volumes to improve coverage. This is especially the case when controlling weeds like groundsel which can become large very quickly – and can develop waxy leaves in windy, dry conditions.
“Weed control can be challenging but it’s always better to reduce the risk of a problem before it becomes a major challenge later down the line,” says Mr Hutchings.
“Although some growers may be tempted to make cutbacks with products, I’d recommend always working with your agronomist to investigate how you can optimise applications rather than compromise them.”