Battle against black-grass with Backrow

As growers contemplate earlier drilling as a result of last autumn’s washout, trouble could lie ahead in terms of weed control. However, adding adjuvant Backrow to pre-emergence and peri-emergence herbicides could help boost black-grass control this season. We spoke to some Agrii agronomists across the country to find out how adjuvant Backrow could make a difference.

Improve efficacy with Backrow adjuvant

Fred Fowler

“I was introduced to Backrow as soon as I joined Agrii five years ago. Since then, I’ve consistently seen the benefits through autumn and spring trials and most importantly, have seen a real improvement when it comes to black-grass control – an average of a 9% improvement, in fact.

“Backrow is fantastic at helping bind chemistry to the soil, ensuring the product stays in the top 5cm of soil where most weeds germinate.”

Fred Fowler, Agrii agronomist

On Fred’s patch in north Lincolnshire, black-grass is the number one issue and there are fears a shift in drilling tactics could worsen the issue this year. “Black-grass is still a key concern for us, and will be going forward, but we are certainly starting to see an increasing number of other species, such as ryegrass and brome, creeping in.”

“We know that many growers will be choosing to drill earlier than usual to make sure crops are in the ground, but from our point of view, and from a black-grass perspective, we would rather it was delayed until the second or third week of October on high pressure grass-weed sites.”

“That said, we do understand that this year in particular growers will need to go when they can, therefore, getting the most out of residual chemistry by using the adjuvant Backrow is going to be key, in my opinion.”

Backrow’s binding properties are another benefit of the adjuvant, which are particularly helpful in dry conditions as it helps to retain moisture in the soil, making it more available, which is crucial for keeping herbicides active, he adds.

As well as the weed control advantages this brings, Fred says it’s also really beneficial from a crop safety and environmental perspective too. “Keeping chemistry in place means less risk of leaching, which therefore means a reduced chance of damage to the seed in heavy rain. It’s also less likely that chemistry will find its way into watercourses too. For me, Backrow is a no brainer.”

Peter Carr

For Midlands based agronomist, Peter Carr, it’s a mixed bag when it comes to weed control on his patch. “We face lots of different challenges here with a wide range of soil types from heavy clays to sand, and everything in the middle.”

“Black-grass is undoubtedly key, but troublesome broadleaf weeds such as bur chervil are becoming more of a challenge and we are seeing an increasing amount of brome bubbling away in the background.”

With a whole host of weed challenges to overcome, anything that can reduce pressure and promote better control is a welcome aid, and on the black-grass front, Peter says Interagro’s adjuvant Backrow can help squeeze that little bit extra from chemistry.

“Agrii has been trialling Backrow for a number of years, using it within stacks of chemistry to try dig into that extra percentage of control against black-grass.”

“The benefits were seen right from the off, and in our trials, we have been able to glean an extra 9% of control on average when the adjuvant was used – it almost felt too good to be true.”

According to Peter, the effects of Backrow are best seen in challenging conditions – when seedbeds are not as good – or on lighter soils. “Generally speaking, we recommend using Backrow with all pre-em chemistry, but particularly on light ground, as it really helps to keep products at the top, reducing phytotoxicity.”

“It is crucial to keep anything applied in that top 5cm zone to stop downward percolation in order to protect both crop safety and the wider environment.”

In dry conditions, Peter has also seen improved coverage when Backrow is used. “Adding Backrow boosts the herbicide’s ability to bind to clay particles better and we have seen that this can make quite a visual difference in terms of grass-weed control.”

John Vickery

Covering the Cotswolds, Evesham, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire, Agrii agronomist, John Vickery, says black-grass is by far the biggest weed issue facing growers.

So to enhance the efficacy of residual chemistry and crop safety, in a bid to reduce black-grass burdens, John has been advising the use of Interagro’s adjuvant, Backrow.

“One of the main things I have found with Backrow is that it really does push chemical efficacy just that bit further. It also helps products adhere to the soil better, which is incredibly beneficial in times of heavy rainfall as it builds in a little more crop safety when large herbicide stacks are applied. This can be particularly important on some of the thinner brash soils.”

With the addition of Backrow, John has also found it is possible to reduce water rates, without compromising on performance. “Our work has shown that when applying residual herbicides, using water rates of 200l/ha tends to give better weed control than 100l/ha. However, with the addition of Backrow operators can use 100l/ha without an efficacy compromise ensuring maximum spraying output at a critical period.”

John has also seen positive results in non-arable situations, with notable benefits seen in vegetable crop application too. “All in all, Backrow is easy to use, improves herbicide efficacy and crop safety and stacks up financially – what’s not to like?”




John Vickery, Agrii agronomist

Mark Glover

In Hampshire, while black-grass burdens don’t appear to be as detrimental as those seen in eastern counties, there’s a certainly a conscious effort being made to keep a lid on things – by both growers and agronomists, says Agrii agronomist, Mark Glover.

“While there are a few farms with high black-grass populations, as a rule I would say it is nowhere near as severe as in the eastern counties. However, we certainly want to keep it that way.”

Though black-grass may not be a major problem just yet, there are concerns over how the legacy of last autumn may affect that this year, he adds. “We know that delayed drilling can have a beneficial effect on controlling blackgrass, but this year a lot of growers are going to be targeting that earlier window as a result of the washout of last autumn. The pendulum has swung the other way and it could create challenges for us.”

So in a bid to keep on top of the issue, Mark recommends the use of Interagro’s adjuvant, Backrow, with both pre and peri emergence herbicides. “Pretty much 100% of my growers use it to both optimise chemical performance and promote crop safety. From a black-grass point of few, there is a strong backlog of evidence to show that it really can help push that extra control, so there’s definitely a case for using it this autumn.”

After first coming across the product five years ago in Agrii trials, it’s now a staple in his weed control armoury, says Mark. “At the time, we were running trials in the East which were looking at nozzles, water rate and boom height, and where Backrow was used, the results were just amazing.”

“Really, it’s just a question of why wouldn’t you use it?”

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