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Shining a light on black-grass growth

Innovation Centres

At the Syngenta Innovation Centre in Crockey Hill near York, we are trialling the performance of hybrid barley versus conventional barley. Black-grass is a pressing issue for growers as it continues to develop resistance to herbicides. Hybrid barley is designed to out-compete black-grass, not just for water and nutrients through its expansive root system, but also through its growth habit above ground.

Through the innovative use of light meters placed within plots of conventional and hybrid barley prior to stem extension, the performance of the hybrid barley is put to the test. Over two months they recorded the amount of light captured as the crop progressed through the growth stages.

“Initially there wasn't any difference between the two different barley types, but as time progressed, the hybrid outgrew the conventional variety and less light reached the light logger.

If you were to replace the logger with a black-grass plant, you can see how hybrid barley suffocates it of light and so you're left with an undeveloped black-grass plant and less seed return.”

- Andy Cunningham, Field Technical Specialist

As black-grass resistance to herbicides increases, even more pressure is placed on non-chemical control measures. It is recommended you use a combination of non-chemical methods including balanced rotations, ploughing, delayed autumn drilling, competitive crops and spring cropping.

Keep up to date with results from the Innovation Centre trials via twitter, Field News or InContact podcasts.

The Syngenta Innovation Centres are specialist sites spread throughout the UK, with technical field experts trialling conditions, varieties, treatments and techniques to provide advice for agronomists and farmers. Come along to one of our open days to learn more about their research, and how it can benefit your crops. Find the dates and locations here: