Dr. Steve Shirtliffe joins us to talk about weed management in lentils. Steve is a professor in the department of plant sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. His research over the past couple of decades has focused on agronomy, with extensive work on weed management in pulses specifically. Steve and I talk about some of the challenges specific to lentils when it comes to weed management, and some of the latest research, innovation and best practices in this area. Steve and his colleagues and graduate students have had the chance to explore a lot of different possibilities for integrated weed management in pulses. One practice that has made a significant difference has been increasing seeding rates.
“We found that basically as soon as you started to increase your seeding rate, You got more crop biomass that meant there was less weed biomass that was there. So it was essentially just kind of almost a replacement thing that the more crop biomass you got there, you got that much less weed biomass.” - Dr. Steve Shirtliffe
But of course increasing the seeding rate isn’t the only answer for organic weed management. They’ve also looked at a variety of mechanical control methods, and tried to determine what would give producers the most optimal weed control. With resistance to group two herbicides, conventional farmers are benefitting from these practices as well. Although Steve admits that herbicides are still mostly preferred while available and still effective.
“If you can keep them weed-free from the five node stage to the ten node stage, if you can control weeds in that zone, you're home free, that's it. You don't have to worry about the weeds that start after that. And if you control them by the five node stage, they haven't done enough damage. So if you can keep them weed free in that period, you've done your job.” - Dr. Steve Shirtliffe