- to develop new, rational weed control methods and strategies against:
1) common couch-grass, creeping thistle, curled docks and coltsfoot;
2) intra-row weeds in high value crops.
And to analyse the applicability of the new achievements in a wider cropping context.
The results are expected to improve the control of perennial weeds and to lower the need for hand-weeding in row crops. Both perennials and intra-row weeds are the main weed problems in today’s organic cropping.
Perennial weed species pass a growth stage at which they are most vulnerable to growth disturbances, and for creeping thistle this stage appears to be around the 8-10 true leave stage. WEEDS seeks utilizing this knowledge for making better weed control strategies against thistles. Coltsfoot is also included in the work but a clarification of its vulnerability remains to be seen.
Rhizomes of common couch-grass and taproots of curled dock can be uprooted and completely exposed due to their rather superficial placement in the soil. Rotating tools under development in WEEDS have demonstrated some potential in this regard and the project aims at finding appropriate methods to remove, destruct or compose the exposed rhizomes and taproots.
Computer science and technologies are expected to make robotic weeding in transplanted row crops likely in a few years time. WEEDS seeks to develop an operational robotic intra-row weeding technology for transplanted and punch planted row crops.
Preliminary results in WEEDS with punch planting combined with a stale seed bed technique have already demonstrated a great potential to reduce intra-row weed emergence whereby time consumption for hand weeding is also reduced.