Participants invited to take part in farmer-led project

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Farmers are being invited to take part in a new farmer-led project as part of the second year of harvest weed seed control trials (HWSC). Organisers are looking for farmers to monitor and sample grassweeds in their crop and send these in to NIAB for analysis.

Dubbed ‘Seed Scouts’, those interested in taking part need to register for a webinar hosted by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN) on Thursday May 18. Each farmer who takes part inthe study will get tailored information on the likely level of efficacy of HWSC which opens up a new chemical-free form of grassweed control and helps reduce dependence on glyphosate.

The participants will also be taking part in the UK’s first ever farmer-led survey of grassweeds left standing at harvest. Experience in other countries has shown this is a valuable window to tackle tricky grassweeds, such as ryegrass and meadow brome.

Will Smith, weed management research agronomist at NIAB

Will Smith, weed management research agronomist at NIAB, said: “The only way HWSC will work is if the seeds are available to the machinery at harvest. We currently know little about how much viable seed goes into the combine – there’s very limited work on this in the UK and Europe.”

The webinar will also give the opportunity for further plans for on-farm trials of the Redekop Seed Control Unit (SCU) to be explained. The trials are due to take place on a number of UK farms this harvest.

Adam Driver of Driver Farms, Suffolk, is leading the project and had an SCU fitted to his Claas Lexion 8800 for the last harvest. He said: “We have been worried about the build-up of blackgrass in the strips behind the combine, and from the first year’s results, it looks as if the SCU is generally doing what we want it to. One of the main reasons we got the SCU is to stop brome and ryegrass before they become a problem like blackgrass.

“The other noticeable difference has been far fewer volunteers in the following crop. This is important for malting barley following wheat, and for milling wheat after spring barley.”

Mr Driver also sampled his grassweeds, to test the seed-sampling protocol developed by NIAB: “It’s fairly straightforward and something any farmer can do. What amazed us was just how much viable blackgrass seed was still standing at harvest.”

Mr Smith and Mr Driver will be present at the webinar, along with Trevor Thiessen, co-owner and president at Redekop Manufacturing, who will join the discussion from Canada.

The webinar is free to attend and there’s no obligation. All those who register for the webinar will be sent a link to access the recording after the event.

For more information and to sign up for the webinar, visit

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