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Researchers seize the black-grass initiative

A new £2.8 million research initiative co-funded by HGCA and BBSRC will investigate the challenge of UK black-grass management - BBSRC-HGCA Black-Grass Project.

Black-grass in winter wheat_275_412A central element to the project is a survey which UK farmers and growers are asked to contribute to and also to provide black-grass seed samples from fields with management challenge. Samples will then be assessed by the research team and growers invited to attend forums to discuss resistance status and resistance management.

Find out how to get involved here

It is due to start this summer and looks to provide an unprecedented insight into the scale of black-grass resistance across the UK.

“It is now generally accepted that some degree of resistance occurs on virtually all farms on which black-grass herbicides have been used regularly,” said Paul Gosling, HGCA Research and KT Manager.

“This new initiative will further our understanding of the evolution of herbicide resistance, including the spread of resistance mechanisms and the impact of resistance on weed densities and crop yields.”

The work is also looking to improve diagnostic tools, so low-level resistance can be detected in the field and nipped in the bud before it becomes an established menace.

Dr Paul Neve, Rothamsted Research, said: “By combining state-of-the-art genomic approaches with weed ecology and agronomy, we will unravel the major driving forces for the evolution of multiple herbicide resistance.

“In-field resistance diagnostics will be developed to aid early detection and provide farmers with the opportunity to manage resistance proactively.”

The BBSRC-HGCA Black-Grass Project has helped six UK academic institutions combine their weed research expertise in a united effort to understand and get on top of black-grass.

Project partners: Newcastle University, University of Sheffield, Rothamsted Research, University of Reading, University of Edinburgh, University of York


If you’d like to be involved in the UK black-grass resistance survey, email YmdyaUByb3RoYW1zdGVkLmFjLnVr

To find out more about the black-grass resistance initiative it will be launched officially at Cereals 2014 (12 June 8:30-9:30) in the BBSRC, Rothamsted Research and John Innes Centre marquee located on stand L-1218-12 (next to HGCA).

Rob Edwards, from Newcastle University, and Paul Neve, from Rothamsted Research, will outline plans for the research as part of a science breakfast discussion on the role of science to find solutions to the black-grass challenge.


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  • Posted by: Eddie BuddPosted on: 08/12/2015 21:02:40

    Comment: Have completed 2014/2015 report on.
    The Royal at Cirencester have expressed interest in having a student do a Phd on further research. However they need funding.
    Regards Eddie (Cambridge)
  • Posted by: EddiePosted on: 10/12/2015 11:11:12

    Comment: Could the Moderator please acknowledge receipt of my comment below.
    This cultural system is sufficiently successful so far to warrant further fine tuning research. The undersown Wheat will be in the ground for 17 months instead of 11 months and may result in higher yields along with more timely opportunities for controlling Black-grass with herbicides . A local cereal grower has undersown a headland strip this Spring. The W. Wheat will experience two Summers. The first year will be in the unvernalized state. Meanwhile over the 3 years it is hoped that the viability of the dormant Black-grass in the soil will decrease by 75% per year without the addition of Black-grass seed. Now needs further trials under practical farm conditions. Good luck.
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