Enable Conservation Tillage (ECT) – Wider Adoption of Sustainable Conservation Tillage Systems

Total budget: 1,000,000 Euro

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2018
End date2023
Project statusOngoing

Conservation Agriculture (CA) practices provides opportunities to reduce costs and have environmental benefits however it adoption is hampered by grass weeds in Ireland.

The project aims to enable the adoption of conservation agriculture practices on Irish tillage farms, by providing farmers with the knowledge skills and capacity to achieve effective grass weed control and prioritise farmer to farmer knowledge and innovation exchange.  The project will put a strong focus on validation and demonstration on growers own fields, using large scale validation trials in multiple locations maximising peer to peer knowledge transfer.

Description of activities: 

-Develop an innovation hub with farmers central, and linked to stakeholders, including seed assemblers, merchants, farm advisors, researchers and herbicide manufacturers, with a focus on solving the grass weed challenge thereby enabling the adoption of CA.

-Work with 10 arable farms with different cultivation systems and grass weeds who will co-develop techniques for grass weed control and practical aids to quantify and control grass weed populations

-Determine the factors that impact on grass weed prevalence on farms

-Evaluating cover crops as a grass weed control measure

-Establish the level and source of grass weed herbicide resistance

-Assess and demonstrate novel weed control approaches

Description of the context of the project: 

Across many regions of the world, Conservation Agriculture (CA) techniques (or Conservation Tillage), which incorporate less intensive soil cultivation, have been adopted to reduce production costs and to improve sustainability. 

Irish tillage farmers have been reluctant to adopt CA techniques however because of concerns about grass weeds and crop establishment in a mild, wetter climate. This lack of engagement threatens the sustainability and competitiveness of arable crop production in Ireland. Additional information: 

The expected results and practical recommendations of the ECT Project are:

Improved farmer and industry knowledge about the level of the grass weed challenge and management factors which influence grass weed proliferation.
Improved adoption of sustainable grass weed control measures across all crop production systems; conservation agriculture and conventional crop establishment.
Increased adoption of conservation agriculture techniques facilitated by enhanced weed control measures by tillage farmers.
Demonstration of the effectiveness of farmer-centred activities, such as demonstrations, validation trials and case studies, as suitable technology transfer tools for challenges requiring complex practical actions.
Publication of a set of practical farmer aids/tools to help quantify grass weed problems, identify solutions and the best way to combine options to control the grass weed in the identified establishment system.
Identification of obstacles which hinder weed control at farm level for specific establishment systems, and of specific solutions to overcome the obstacles.
National picture of herbicide resistance with practical recommendations for farmers to deal with resistance or to prevent resistance development as appropriate.
Determining the role of new practices such as remote sensing images and alternative weed destruction techniques.
Developing a stronger social fabric among arable farmers and the industry through the pursuit of a common goal to solving a series of complex problems.

Contact person: Michael Hennessy

Address: Teagasc, Oak Park, Co. Carlow

E-mail: michael.hennessy@teagasc.ie

Phone: 00353 76 1111227


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