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1. Try to disturb less soil at drilling than during previous operations

Disturbing more soil at drilling could potentially stimulate more black-grass germination that would need to be controlled in the crop. Take care when setting up the drill to only disturb as much soil as required to achieve appropriate drilling depth and coverage. Also consider forward speed when drilling – going too quickly can increase soil throw and boil.

2. Rolling improves seedbed quality which helps with germination, Liberator efficacy and improves slug control

A fine, consolidated seedbed is optimal for germination as it maximises seed to soil contact, while it also helps the efficacy of residual herbicides because you get a more complete herbicide layer, and breaks down clods, which will help reduce the amount of later germinating black-grass in the crop. Consolidation also minimises the movement of slugs through the soil profile.

3. Reduce tractor tyre pressure – ideally below 0.8 bar – to prevent compaction during autumn operations, particularly when the ground is wet.

Tyre choice and pressure is particularly important with disc drills. Some modern tyres are capable of being run at much lower pressures below one bar. Any compaction caused by tyre pressures under 0.8 bar can typically be fixed by the crop roots – any higher can start to impact on yields. The damper and looser the soil, the more effect such pressures can have.

4. If you can’t spray, don’t drill – make sure you can get back with the pre-em application within 48 hours of drilling. 

Pre-emergence herbicides are most effective if sprayed within 48 hours of drilling typically. As a crucial part of the black-grass control programme it makes sense to maximise the chances of its effectiveness, so consider hiring a contractor to spray pre-emergence herbicides if you don’t have the capacity to drill and spray within 48 hours.