An organic farmer is using intercropping to combat wild oats on his mixed farm in Wiltshire.
James Hares, of Roundhill Farm, is growing trials of winter wheat with beans through the Innovative Farmers network, following a ‘disastrous’ year of weeds in his bean crop.
In the first year of the trials, Mr Hares saw a 63 per cent reduction in weed biomass in the intercropped area compared to the bean monoculture area.
Despite beans yields being ‘slightly disappointing’, Mr Hares told an audience at the Innovative Farmers and Organic Research Centre event on his farm that the reduction in weed burden was substantial, and he would continue to use intercropping.
This year, Mr Hares has adjusted seed rates from his usual bean rate of 175kg/ha to 200kg/ha and low tillering wheat variety Mulika from 125kg/ha to 100kg/ha in a bid to reduce competition and boost bean yields.
Intercropping has not only tackled his wild oat problem, but Mr Hares also noted that charlock had been absent in the field this year.
The wheat and bean mix is rolled for high protein livestock feed, for Mr Hares’ organic beef enterprise.