Richard Hinchliffe - Herbicide resistance

At the time of writing this, I’m in Australia, studying for my Nuffield Scholarship entitled "herbicide resistant weeds; investigation a sustainable future for arable farming"; the award was made by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

I see herbicide resistance one of the biggest challenges that the arable sector faces, with increasing levels of herbicide resistance and nothing coming forward in the form of new chemical modes of action.  This situation is prompting farmers to look towards more integrated methods of weed control.

My research has taken me to the USA for a month this summer; after my month in Australia, I hope to visit Argentina at the start of next year. I’ll then head back to the USA and Canada next year.

My learnings so far have been that herbicide resistance is a global problem, with different attitudes being shown towards it. 

Resistance is often seen as a "wicked problem", but in reality it is really not.  Understanding how resistance works on your farm is critical to determining a plan of attack on your own farm.  

A practice called Harvest Weed Seed Control has changed ryegrass management in Australia and showing great results within a two to three year window. Meanwhile, the USA is very reliant on GMO technology and is now starting to stack multiple herbicide tolerances within Corn and Soybeans.

So how will this change what we do at home? Attention to detail is crucial and you need to farm in a way that will reduce the weed seed bank.  You need to devise a weed management plan but have to be adaptable enough to change if the need does. The shift has to be made for reliance on herbicides to maximising the use of cultural controls.

My hope is that my findings will help other farmers with this huge problem. The world is a massive place; and the UK is only a tiny producer of food competing in a global marketplace.  I feel that the British producers have a place within that market, as a producer of high quality food with some of the world's best safety records and levels of compliance, that's where we have advantage. But our produce needs to be marketed better to the public for a certain future.  At the same time, UK agriculture shouldn't be complacent, because the industry needs to become more efficient to thrive post Brexit.


CropTec 2016

Herbicide resistance will be a big topic at this year's CropTec event, come and talk to our technical experts and listen to our seminars discussing how we can become more efficient. 

We also have over 140 exhibitors at the event displaying the latest science and technology across the trade stands, while CropTec’s well established seminars and hubs will feature the latest thinking on a range of key arable topics delivered by leading specialists.

The event is free to attend for those visitors that pre-book their tickets. ALL visitors will be charged £15 on the day.

Nichola Bell

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