Eutrema are working with farmers to develop a new biological way to control black grass. This control method will work alongside the current control methods (herbicides, plant densities, etc) to hopefully tip the balance back in favour of the farmer!
Eutrema is based in Daventry in North Northamptonshire. The arable crops in this region are being devastated by the spread of this pernicious weed.
Biological control is very difficult to achieve at the farm scale, and is extremely difficult for weeds. However, we feel this project has great potential as it will be farmer-led, so will focus on what is practical for them to unleash biology onto the crop.
If you are farmer and would like to register your interest in joining the Black Grass Biology Group, please visit the sign up page.
If left unchecked black grass has a major impact on the yield of cereal crops. It has been even known to take up to 50% of yield if it isn’t controlled for several years. And it is not just direct competition for resources that is the issue. Black grass is a carrier for two serious diseases of cereal crops; ergot and take-all. So having black grass in a field will act as a reservoir for these diseases that can be spread easily to the crop plants.
Black grass is difficult for farmers to control because of the following reasons:
- Small seeds; these can travel a long way on the wind or attached to machinery. They hairs on the coat provide a static charge that further improves their spread on machine.
- Short life cycle; so seeds are shed well before the crop is harvested.
- Stubble is no longer burnt; so viable seeds remain on the ground for future crops.
- Herbicide resistance; is now widespread, so previously effective weedkillers can no longer be used.
For more information on Eutrema’s work on black grass, please listen to our podcast episode on the subject: