The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) have issued a joint call for a review of weed management in UK cropping systems.
Drawing upon national and international information sources, the proposed review will cover cereals and oilseeds, horticulture (field and protected crops), potatoes and sugar beet, as well as grassland.
With £36,000 set aside for the work, the organisations hope the review will identify improved ways to manage weeds and innovative research approaches by early 2019.
The review will identify ways to combine the use of a diminishing range of conventional synthetic herbicides with alternative options. Economic feasibility of the alternative options identified will be included, where possible.
Joe Martin, AHDB senior crop protection scientist for weeds, said: “Weed control is a major challenge across all cropping sectors and it is essential limited resources are pooled to find new solutions.
“There are many examples of the challenges crop production faces. The recent loss of linuron, for example, has opened up gaps in weed control across the horticultural and potato sectors. The cereals sector also faces significant pressures, made worse by resistance issues in grass and broad-leaved weeds.”
He added: “Key active ingredients for weed control in sugar beet production, such as phenmedipham and desmedipham, are also at risk of being withdrawn from the market. But the diversity of UK cropping systems is both a challenge and an opportunity – a challenge, because of the wide range of crops, weeds and systems. An opportunity, because of the diverse range of weed control measures already being deployed.”
Non-chemical options, biopesticides, biological controls, herbicide-tolerant varieties, application technology and novel approaches – such as the use of robotics, drones, electric weeding and modelling – will all be investigated as part of the review. Ways to improve understanding of weed biology, changes to weed populations and allelopathy will also be investigated.
The review’s findings will provide funders, including AHDB and BBRO, with the information needed to coordinate investment through a targeted programme of research and knowledge exchange.