Saturday, August 24, 2019

Crimping cereals kills blackgrass seeds, say ADAS researchers

August 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Livestock

Livestock farmers with a blackgrass problem could benefit by crimping cereals – which researchers say kills problem seeds ensiled within the crop.

Trials undertaken by ADAS found that crimping cereals kills 100% of blackgrass seeds – and could help to reduce the blackgrass burden on farms. Researchers suggest blackgrass could decline year on year if crimping is undertaken over the long term.

A further benefit of the crimping process – which involves processing and adding a preservative to the grain and ensiling it in a clamp or plastic tube – comes through its early harvest which is typically three weeks ahead of the regular cereal harvest.

Less viable

The trials showed that blackgrass seeds are less viable at the time of an early crimping harvest, with a 18.6% germination rate compared to a 42% germination rate from a fully mature plant harvested three weeks later.

The early harvest associated with crimping also removed more blackgrass seed from the field compared with the conventional harvest timing – adding to a string of benefits to come from crimping rather than harvesting dry cereals.

Benefits included the higher nutritional quality of earlier-harvested cereals, reduced grain loss through shedding and disease, the ability to start autumn cultivations on the cereal ground earlier and the lack of need to dry grain.

Additional weapon

ADAS weed researcher Laura Davies said crimping looked promising as an additional weapon against blackgrass. It could be used alongside a range of practices to combat the pernicious weed – including strategic ploughing, delayed autumn drilling and switching to spring cereals.

Dr Davies said: “We are very encouraged that this trial demonstrated the crimping process itself will kill blackgrass seed, making it unviable. This suggests that early harvest and crimping could be an effective part of a multifactorial approach to blackgrass control.”

The results were so promising that their long-term impact over several seasons should be researched, said Dr Davies. “We would like to investigate the impact of early harvest on reducing the weed seed bank and emergence of blackgrass in subsequent crops.”

Neil Welburn who farms 640ha acres near Goole, East Yorkshire, has turned his entire cereal acreage over to crimping. He produces some 500t of crimped cereals annually, feeding 200t to his 600 head of cattle and selling the remainder to other livestock producers.

Control strategy

Mr Welburn says: “Early harvest and crimping are an important part of our blackgrass control strategy. We set the combine sieves fully open for crimping and catch all of the weed seed, which you can see in the tank.

“Once everything has been through the crimper, had the preservative applied and been clamped for a month or so, my feeling is that the seed isn’t viable at all. The cattle are really healthy and the grades have definitely gone up since we’ve been feeding crimp.”