Weeds are, by their nature tenacious and almost impossible to eradicate once established. The best form of management is preventing their establishment in the first place. Weeds are easily spread between fields and between farms and it is worth taking some trouble to try and prevent this with some basic hygiene measures. Ask yourself the following questions:
Have you got a system for detecting weeds early?
- Managing a particular weed will be easier if it is detected early and prevented from spreading
- Ensure that all people who work on the farm or visit it are alert to the possibility of spreading weeds and weed seed and ask them to tell you if they notice any particular areas of weeds.
- Keep records of problems weeds and their spread or otherwise. A digital camera can be a useful tool to record presence of weeds and monitor changes over time.
Is your farm machinery spreading weeds?
- Weed seeds are easily carried in soil, crop residues and on machinery so these should be regularly cleaned down.
- If there is a serious weed infestation in a particular field, or machinery is moving through fields where weeds are flowering, then washing down machinery should be a serious consideration.
- Hygiene is particularly important at harvest time. In crops like cereals weed seeds may be scattered in the field or caught on the machinery and dislodged later some distance from the original source. It may be necessary to add screens to combines to catch weed seeds at harvest. Older models may already have these features.