I spent a few hours at harvest doing what I should have done several years back, and I read 35 Harvests, which is my father’s compilation of annual reports from 1974 to 2008. It showed me that some of the ideas we have now have been tried in the past – hopefully the bad ones won’t be repeated. You’ll notice there are quite a few references to old reports, so now you’ll know why. One thing that struck me was the following line from 1979:
“One rather dismal aspect of the cereals on this farm is the continued advance of blackgrass. Three years ago it was only present on the chalk to the north of the farm but since then it seems to be advancing about one mile a year. This autumn we have noticed it on the hill at Duxford so we have now been gripped in a pincer movement.”
Given that this was back in the day when all the straw was burnt, it’s fairly obvious that the rose-tinted spectacles are wrong; burning wasn’t a failsafe way of controlling grass weeds after all.