The new Claydon TerraBlade Inter-Row Hoe an effective, low-cost method of controlling weeds in all types of combinable crops was launched at Cereals. The weeds have been band-sown and an unseeded strip has been left between the rows which can be mechanically hoed.
Developed and manufactured by Claydon, the TerraBlade can be used on any tractor with a Cat II front linkage and has a power requirement of 10-12 hp/m. The initial model, the M6, has a working width of 6m and is equipped with 20 blades which slice through the soil at depth of up to 3cm, cutting off the weeds’ rooting systems so that they wither and die and Claydon are planning to introduce a full range of TerraBlade models to match the working width of its Hybrid Opti-Till drills.
Manually steered, the TerraBlade can be used whenever soil conditions allow. On farms that drill early, for example, crops may be sufficiently well developed in the autumn to start using the technique. The operation can then continue in the spring, up to the stage where further passes might compromise the crop.
Claydon says the TerraBlade is a valuable addition to the agricultural industry’s weed control armoury. Coming at a time when the efficacy of some herbicides is decreasing, and the cost of control is increasing, it represents a further significant advantage in favour of the Claydon Optimum Tillage System, a progressive, more ecological and financially sustainable method of establishing combinable crops compared with either traditional plough or min-till-based techniques.
The TerraBlade eliminates weeds that have been missed by ag-chems and are growing between the seeded bands, reliably, safely and without using chemicals, or can be operated in situations where such products cannot be used. Keeping the unseeded rows clear of weeds during the early stages of growth reduces competition for nutrients, light, air and water, enabling the young crop to grow strong and healthy. This method also greatly reduces the return of weed seeds and the overall weed burden.
Blackgrass, a by-product of modern farming systems regardless of which establishment method is used, has become increasingly resistant to current herbicides. Some growers spend £40/ha on a product which in some cases is only 50 per cent effective, or even less where they have resistant weeds. With no new chemistry on the horizon it was important for Claydon to develop a method to improve weed control and further reduce growers’ input costs.
In a blackgrass trial conducted by Agrii UK, in an area where grassweeds had become problematic after years of conventional crop establishment, a combination of Claydon stubble management and herbicide programmes achieved a very high level of grassweed control.
In the control area which received no weed treatment, Agrii researchers counted over 900 blackgrass seed heads per square metre. In the surrounding area, where a combination of ag-chem treatments, Claydon Straw Harrow and Claydon TerraBlade passes was used, the number of blackgrass seed heads was 13/m2, a 98.5% reduction.
Jeff Claydon, the company’s CEO, states: “We developed the TerraBlade on our own farm over two years and found that, in conjunction with the use of herbicides, the unit will pay for itself quickly through reductions in grass weeds and improved crop yields. The TerraBlade will give years of reliable service, has very low operating costs and offers great flexibility.”