North #agronomy18

Brome is where the heart is

Brome weeds are most prevalent in the heart of cereal growing areas. Laura Davies (ADAS) shared the outcomes of a survey completed by ADAS on brome. The survey was the first of its kind since the Berlin Wall came down.  The aim of the survey was to look for sensitivity to herbicides, rather than resistance to them.

She reported that the results may have been biased, as people who experience brome problems were more likely to have completed the survey.

The survey revealed that 38% of farmers and agronomists incorrectly identified their brome species. For guidance on identifying your brome, see AHDB’s Idenitification and control of brome grasses and Rothamsted Research’s Which brome is that?

For best control of grass weeds – spray them at the 2–3 leaf stage. Spraying later will mean that the plants will need a higher dose for effective control. If a few plants remain after spraying, go and get rid of them otherwise you may be pushing towards resistance.

Alternative crops

Sarah Cook, also from ADAS, delved into the world of alternative crops looking at the pros and cons of sunflowers to lupins. The slides are available on the website. Some of AHDB’s Monitor Farmers have trialled using different crops in their rotation, check out this month’s Reaping Rewards to see how they got on.

Having crop cover is great for the soil – it keeps roots in the ground which act as free drainage and it encourages the building of organic matter.  The topic of cover crops got the whole room excited and the discussion will continue at the Warrington Monitor Farm meeting on 8 March 2018, make sure you register to attend.

Do you have a rich soil?

Soil was likened to a bank account by Elizabeth Stockdale (NIAB). If you take your soil as it is, with the same monthly incomings and outgoings, it will stay the same. You’re in equilibrium. Once your child goes off to Uni, your bank account takes a hit and, suddenly, there are more outgoings than incomings and there is a deficit.

Similarly if you keep adding to the bank account, exceeding the outgoings, there will be an increase. Then when the unexpected happens, although the account may take a hit, there is still a cushion to ensure there isn’t a deficit.

This is the same with organic matter. If organic matter is continually built, the soil will be more resilient to sudden changes. For more information, visit

Pressure in the headland

There is a lot of variation in the headland – they are worked differently, have different levels of traffic on them with different amounts of residue. Due to the amount of traffic in turning headlands, there is a higher potential for compaction which, we all know, is bad for the land and can affect yield.

The effect of machinery on headlands can be managed and monitored. Map and plan the machinery route to control the impact of the weight across the headland. Grab your spade and dig a hole to check the working depth is correct. Check your tyre pressure and axle load are as low as possible to minimise the pressure on the headlands.

Fiona Geary

Fiona Geary

AHDB Knowledge Transfer Officer

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