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Phacelia Cultivation Technology Experiences in 2020

Traditions of Mosonmagyaróvár. The boom in Hungarian phacelia cultivation may have been due to foreign interest in seeds, which began in the ’70s.

Domestic cultivation began in the Mosonmagyaróvár area, and this is still the most important cultivation area. In 2016, the area of phacelia seed cultivation in Győr-Moson-Sopron county exceeded 6,000 hectares.

Technological development is still necessary today, as the most commonly used herbicides, which had been a solution for controlling the small weed seeds that make seed cleaning difficult, have been removed from licensed circulation. Phacelia is also herbicide sensitive. Therefore, it is necessary to employ cultivation techniques which are based on mechanical weed control, and which maintain the optimal yield level.

Producers now want to exceed the previous yield levels of 300-400 kg / ha, and this requires a weed-free, sufficiently developed crop. From a seed cleaning perspective, it is particularly important to prevent the growth of those weed seeds (field mustard, black bindweed, goosefoot) which are most dangerous to the crop.

Phacelia is drought-tolerant, and has no significant pests or pathogens, so if herbicide use can be reduced or eliminated, it is an ideal plant species for sustainable, environmentally friendly crop production and even organic farming, and both in terms of seed production and as a green manure it can play a significant role in diversifying arable land. What is more, by attracting bees, crop protection and even overall financial revenue can be improved. The seed can fetch prices of 800,000-900,000 forints per ton, and the yield can reach 1 ton with precise technology, at a low-cost level.

Results of phacelia cultivation experiments

Within the framework of the Ministry of Agriculture tender for the establishment of innovative operation groups, a research project entitled ‘Development of Herbicide-Free Phacelia Cultivation Technology on Arable Land in the  Little Hungarian Plain Region’ was launched, in which we employed the ÖMKi on-farm experimental method on large-sized plots at three phacelia farms, one in Mosonudvar (Szűcs Bt.),  Mosonszolnok (Pribánszki Kft.), and at Pusztasomorján (Szemes Művek Kft.) where we establish experiments on honey quality, and will report about it in a separate publication. 

Our aim was to investigate how weeding and the effectiveness of weed control are affected by stocking density, row spacing, and the weed control technology used. Three seed rates (5, 8, 12 kg), two row spacing (G = 12.5, TG = 37.5 cm), and three weed control techniques (Q: no weed control, F: weed comb, FK: weed comb + cultivator) were tested.

Table 1: Weather Data

Month

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

Average/Total.

Avg. across years

Diff.

Average Temperature °C

6.9

11.9

14

19

21.5

14.66

14.18

0.48

Rainfall (mm)

39.5

3

39.8

92.2

27.4

201.9

259.6

-57.7

Extremely cold and dry spring weather was followed by wetter June and dry July, with less rainfall overall during the growing season than the multi-year average.




Table 2: Agricultural Techniques on Experimental Plots in Mosonudvar

Pre-Crop

2017: durum wheat, 2018: spring barley, 2019: hybrid corn

Tillage

harrow: 2019 X. 15., soil cultivator: 2019 X. 30., compactor: 2020. III. 11.

Sowing

-III. 16. SULKY SPI SOLO 6 seed drill, Angélia variety

Sowing Depth (cm)

3-4

Irrigation (mm)

35

Harvest

VII. 16.  NEW HOLLAND combine harvester

 
Table 3: Sowing and weed control on experimental plots in Mosonudvar

 

Plot 1: /G182Q3

Plot 2:

/G12Q

Plot 3:

/G8F4

Plot 4:

/TG55F+K6

Row Spacing (cm)

12.5

12.5

12.5

37.5

Seed kg/ha

8

12

8

5

Weed Control

-

-

Inter-row weeder: V. 25.

Inter-row weeder: V. 20. cultivator: V. 26.

1G= grain spacing (12,5 cm), 2n: seed rate kg/ha, 3Q: without weed control, 4F: inter-row weeder, 5TG: triple row-spacing 6K: cultivator

The phacelia was sown in mid-March 2020 on plots cultivated without rotation in a compactor-prepared seedbed. Plots 1 and 2 were sown at a grain spacing with two different seed rates. Weed control was not performed on these plots. On plot 2, only a weed comb, while on plot 4, due to the wider row spacing, a weed comb and a camera-controlled cultivator were also used.

Row-planted crop
2020. 05. 22. Mosonudvar

   

Triple-row planted crop
2020. 05. 22. Mosonudvar



Table 4: Crop Results for Each Management Method

 

Plot 1
G8Q

Plot 2
G12Q

Plot 3
G8F

Plot 4
TG5F+K

Weed coverage

22.1%

9.6%

27.2%

8.5%

Main Weed Species
(as a % of the total)

 

white goosefoot 5%
green foxtail 4%
cockspur grass 3%
bindweed 3%

white goosefoot 2%
green foxtail 1%
cockspur grass 1%
bindweed 1%

white goosefoot 5%

 

nettle-leaved goosefoot 40%
white goosefoot 4%
green foxtail 5%

Pests

-

-

-

-

Pathogens

-

-

-

-

Phacelia Coverage 1

80%

75%

90%

85%

Beginning of Flowering

V. 25.

V. 25.

V. 25.

V. 25.

Technical Maturity

VII. 16.

VII. 16.

VII. 16.

VII. 16.

Yield kg/ha

960

826

840

680

1 On day 30 after germination
     

Phacelia coverage was highest in the row with the slightly elevated seed rate and weed combing (G8F) on day 30 after sowing. Nettle-leaved goosefoot and foxtail were unable to take over. However, most of the weed cover in the wider row was provided by these two weed species.

Less weed cover was found in plot 2, which had the increased seed rate (12 kg / ha) and in the plot with weed comb and cultivator, wide row spacing, and lower seed rate (5 kg / ha), so this type of combined mechanical weed control can also be considered effective. At the same time, most of the seed yields were obtained in the medium-density sowing (8 kg / ha) stock without weed control. The question of how much weed seed contamination is to be expected after cleaning requires further investigation. Maturation dynamics and harvest time were not affected by different sowing methods.

Table 5. Agricultural techniques on the experimental plots in Mosonszolnok

Pre-Crop

2017 autumn barley, 2018 phacelia, 2019 autumn barley

Tillage

2019. XI. 20.  ploughing (25cm), 2020.II. 25. compactor

Nutrient Supply

2020. II. 22.  Fertilizer Complex (15:15:15) 200 kg/ha

Sowing

2020 III. 18. SULKY SPI SOLO 6 seed drill, Lilla variety

Sowing Depth (cm)

3-4

Crop Management

2020.V.18. Plantál Boron foliar feed

Irrigation (mm)

-

Weed Control

-

Harvest – Clearing
              – Threshing

VII. 06.  NEW HOLLAND combine harvester
VII. 20.

 
Table 6: Sowing and weed control on the experimental plots in Mosonszolnok (conventional farming)

 

Plot 5 /G8Q

Plot 6 /G12Q

Plot 7 /G9V

Row spacing (cm)

12.5

12.5

12.5

Seed kg/ha

8

12

9

Weed Control

-

-

Clopyralid 120 g/ha


Sowing took place at the optimal period, in mid-March, using grain row spacing, with differing seed rates. The nutrient supply of the experimental field was provided through both ground and foliar fertilizer. Plots 5 and 6 had no chemical or mechanical weed control, plot 7 had a single post-emergence treatment.


Table 7: Crop Results for Each Management Method/Field

 

Plot 5
G8Q

Plot 6
G12Q

Plot 7
G9V

Weed coverage

31,2%

7,5%

5,5%

Main Weed Species ( as a % of the total)

 

white goosefoot 8%
annual yellow woundwort 15%
black-bindweed 5%
bindweed 3%

white goosefoot 3 % annual yellow woundwort 2 %
black-bindweed 0,5%
bindweed 1%

white goosefoot 0,5%
annual yellow woundwort 2%
black-bindweed 0,5%

Pests

-

-

-

Pathogens

-

-

-

Phacelia Coverage 1

90%

95%

85%

Beginning of flowering

V. 27.

V. 27

V. 27.

Technical Maturity

VII. 06.

VII. 06.

VII. 06.

Yield kg/ha

500

500

500

1 On day 30 after germination


Despite the lower seed rate, the phacelia coverage on plot 5 also reached 90% on the 30th day after sowing. However, weed cover had also strengthened, with white goosefoot and woundwort cover being the highest. Weed cover remained below 10% on plots sown with increased seed rate, and on chemically treated plots.



Row-planted phacelia crop
Mosonszolnok 2020. 05. 30.

The effect of different cultivation methods on weeding

Weed cover rates were higher on the medium-sowing-density (8 kg / ha seed rate) plot without weed control (G8Q), and lower on the high-sowing density (12 kg / ha seed rate) plot without weed control (G12Q).
Using the wider triple-grain row spacing with inter-row weeder + cultivator approach, the 5 kg seed rate also resulted in weed coverage below 10% (TG5F + K).



Diagram: Weed coverage with different cultivation methods in 2020

We will continue our research in 2021, in the course of which we will analyse in detail the changes in weed species, according to the different cultivation methods.


Authors:

Dr. Éva Hunyadi Borbélyné, ÖMKi Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Budapest
Dr. Gyula Pinke, Éva Dunai, Széchenyi István University Department of Water and Environmental Sciences, Mosonmagyaróvár

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