Managing weeds in arable rotations – a guide

This practical guide for farmers and agronomists brings together research to allow improved weed management through a rotation dominated by autumn-sown crops. Originally published in 2010, the 2017 revision has a new look and some minor changes.

Weed management

Weed control is vital for high yields of good-quality crops and to prevent the spread of pests and diseases,  such as ergot. Yet with fewer active ingredients, a need to protect water and manage herbicide resistance, the weed challenge must be managed across the rotation.

Weed control is more than just using herbicides. Many factors
determine weed incidence and effective weed management in
arable crops requires integration of all these factors:

  • Crop choice and rotation
  • Managing the weed seedbank
  • Cultivations
  • Drilling date
  • Crop competition
  • Herbicide choice, application and timing
  • Recent weed control strategies
  • Weather
  • Agronomist/farmer perceptions

Related publications:

There are five species of brome grasses that grow as arable weeds in the UK, belonging to two different groups. As different control measures apply to each group, identification is important.

Italian rye-grass is a weed of autumn-sown crops and is more competitive than black-grass.

Populations of herbicide-resistant broad-leaved weeds are still uncommon in the UK but are increasing. If you suspect resistance, collect seed samples for testing.

These guidelines by the Weed Resistance Action Group (WRAG) look to help agronomists and growers maintain efficacy of glyphosate in the UK.