Innovative use of deep surface cultivations may give you effective non-chemical control for creeping thistle.
A group of Innovative Farmers has been working to find a chemical-free solution that keeps creeping thistles at bay. Over the last two years the field lab, based at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, has been trialling eleven cultivation methods.
It seems that the most effective method is to use sub-soiling or deep surface cultivation at a depth of 8” to 10”. Most tractor mounted cultivation tools will break up and turn surface soil to between 5” and 8” but deeper cultivation appears effective in damaging the roots of the thistle, resulting in significantly less growth. As well as depth, it is thought that timing is important too. If cultivation happens once the thistles have stopped growing in the autumn, this gives more time for rhizome degradation to take place over winter.
The next phase of the trial will look at fine tuning the cultivation technique, but as cultivation isn’t right for everyone, it will also look at other treatments including one based on the infection which causes thistles to go white and shrivel. The group will be working with National Perennial Weed Specialist, Lyn Tatnell from ADAS.