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Unveiling Effective Cultural Measures: Managing Ryegrass with Lessons from Blackgrass Trials

News - 06.11.23

Early findings suggest that cultural measures for managing blackgrass are also effective against ryegrass.

New Ryegrass Trial Site and Early Findings

Early findings suggest that cultural measures for managing blackgrass are also effective against ryegrass.

Embarking on the fourth season of trials at a North Yorkshire farm near York, Agrii delves into the complexities of managing ryegrass. Steve Corbett, leading the initiative, draws insights from blackgrass trials at Stow Longa, exploring the impact of various cultural measures on ryegrass infestation.

Understanding the Ryegrass Challenge

The trial focuses on unravelling why ryegrass poses a significant challenge and aims to identify effective management strategies. Combinations of cultivations (plough, min-till, and min-till plus low disturbance leg) and winter crops (wheat and barley) are scrutinized to glean crucial insights.

Cultural Practices Influence Ryegrass

Early findings mirror blackgrass trials, indicating that cultural practices play a pivotal role in ryegrass management. Reset ploughing revealed low ryegrass levels initially, reminiscent of blackgrass behavior.

However, repeating ploughing the following year brought back the weed, showcasing the influence of cultural practices.

Ryegrass - A Formidable Bully

Unlike blackgrass, ryegrass exhibits a more aggressive nature, with 100 ears/sq m capable of decimating an entire crop. Steve notes the bully-like characteristics of ryegrass, emphasizing the importance of crop competition in its control.

The sandy silt loam soil, previously struggling with poor structure and waterlogging, underwent transformation through subsoiling, effectively reducing ryegrass levels.

Innovations in Soil Management

Addressing soil structure challenges, the farm implemented a 6m Weaving direct drill and a HE-VA low disturbance leg. The leg, contributing an additional 0.5t/ha to the average yield in min-till, showcased its effectiveness in improving soil structure.

While ploughing yielded the highest results, the changes underscore the adaptability required for comprehensive ryegrass management.

Spring Barley as a Strategic Solution

A significant shift in strategy involves the introduction of spring barley, proving to be a game-changer. Generating the highest margin at £2,342/ha, spring barley offers a viable alternative.

Last year, Explorer outperformed RGT Silversurfer wheat in yield, highlighting its potential in managing ryegrass and boosting first wheat crops.

The ongoing trial showcases the dynamic nature of managing ryegrass, drawing parallels with blackgrass trials while uncovering unique challenges.

The integration of cultural practices and strategic crop choices emerges as a promising approach, providing valuable insights for farmers grappling with ryegrass-related issues.

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