Wheat School: How harvest weed seed control could fit in the fight against herbicide resistance

(courtesy Breanne Tidemann)

Harvest weed seed control has been widely adopted in Australia as a tool in fighting herbicide resistance. When it comes to North America, farmers in southern States, such as Arkansas, have started implementing these concepts, but the idea of destroying weed seed viability has yet to take off here in Canada.

In this Wheat School episode, we talk to Breanne Tidemann, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, about different options she’s been researching when it comes to the dark cloud of herbicide resistance.

“In Western Canada, our primary herbicide resistant weed is wild oat. We are seeing a lot of resistance to the grassy herbicides, our group ones,” says Tidemann. “And we are seeing more and more resistance to the group twos.”

Much of her work has focused on harvest weed seed control and different approaches to reduce the number of viable weed seeds that get released in a field.

“We’re looking at its potential here and what weeds we could potentially target, how it would maybe fit into our systems,” she explains.

As Tidemann notes, these practices often require either burning, additional labour or expensive equipment, which producers aren’t interested in. That could change as resistance problems continue to grow and the price of equipment, such as the Harrington Seed Destructor or the Seed Terminator, starts to drop.

Tidemann says they’re planning to conduct field-scale trials with the Harrington machine in Western Canada this summer.

“The Harrington Seed Destructor – the original version of it – is a tow behind unit that had a cage mill in it. And cage mills have been used for crushing coal and things like that for years,” explains Tidemann. “The idea is that when we harvest in a field, most of our weed seeds are in the chaff fraction of our combine, what’s coming off the sieves, and we basically broadcast that back out onto the field. What the seed destructor does is it takes that chaff fraction, puts it into a cage mill and it gets impacted to the point that it gets ground into a really fine dust. So the idea is when the seeds are in itty-bitty little pieces, they are no longer going to grow and produce weeds the next year.”

She notes the recent commercialization of an integrated Harrington Seed Destructor that can be attached to the back of a combine may also entice farmer interest in the concept, since it doesn’t require additional labour (only about 80hp from the combine).

Find out more in the video below, and click here for more Wheat School episodes.

Related: Harrington Seed Destructor Canada-Bound for 2014

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