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Enable Conservation Tillage (ECT Project)

Enable Conservation Tillage (ECT Project)

ECT Project is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.


In many regions of the world, Conservation Agriculture (CA) techniques incorporating less intensive soil cultivation, have been adopted to reduce production costs and to improve sustainability. Irish farmers have been reluctant to adopt CA techniques because of concerns about grass weeds and crop establishment in a mild, wetter climate. CA practices can enable rapid spread of grass weeds such as sterile brome or blackgrass, particularly in a mild climate, and herbicide resistance is now reducing options for control and will force an increased use of non-chemical control options. While an integrated approach to weed control, combining cultural control (stale seedbeds, crop rotation, sowing date manipulation etc.) and conventional control methods, offers scope to reduce the grass weed problem, farmers are uncertain about the effectiveness and implementation of these methods.

Against this background, Teagasc has set up the Enable Conservation Tillage project which is

  • a co-innovation model, funded by the Department of Agriculture and Marine and is an “European Innovation Partnerships” initiative and has set up
  • a network of ten ‘focus farms’ to seek evidence on how site-specific IWM can be more fully implemented at farm level to tackle grass weed problems without excessive reliance on herbicides.
  • with the aim reduce the barriers for farmers to adopt non-plough tillage.
  • the structure of the project maximises farmer to farmer knowledge exchange thus increases the potential for practice adoption 


The overall objective of the project is: 

  • to enable the adoption of conservation agriculture practices on Irish tillage farms.
  • providing growers with the knowledge skills and capacity to achieve effective grass weed control. View Identification and Biology of grass weeds here 

The project aims to achieve this objective by: 

  • providing growers with the knowledge skills and capacity to achieve effective grass weed control.

The project will also:

  • capture farmer knowledge locally using “Focus Farms”.
  • Set up comparison trials (Validation Areas)on these farms to measure the effect of different interventions using establishment and weed control techniques.
  • assess the level and nature of herbicide resistance.
  • optimise the use of existing herbicides.
  • prioritise farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange.

Grass Weed Survey for Grower/industry

Teagasc needs input from growers, and the industry in general, to get an understanding of current practices to help develop improved practices for the future.  This short online survey assess awareness of herbicide-resistant weeds as well as adoption of resistance management strategies.

The information gathered will be used to develop weed control programmes which are adapted to our Irish farms and are practical to implement.