What was the challenge/ problem addressed?

The aim of the EIP project is to develop a cultivation technology for phacelia based on mechanical weed control, partly due to the withdrawal of permitted herbicides. Phacelia, as a green manure plant, plays a crucial role in maintaining soil condition, uncovering nutrients, and suppressing weed growth. The removal of chemical weed control poses a significant challenge due to the spread of weed infestation. Given the demand for phacelia as a green manure plant, there is a need to develop an environmentally friendly, innovative, and sustainable cultivation technology. The project is implemented in consortium form, involving three farmers cultivating phacelia under different soil conditions. Objective data was collected during experiments to determine the feasibility and desirability of cultivating without herbicides. The goal is to establish a unified crop cultivation technology that includes the appropriate field tools for weed control.

How did you solve the problem?

The problem was addressed through the development of a cultivation technology for Phacelia based on mechanical weed control. This need arose partly due to the withdrawal of permitted herbicides from the market. Phacelia tanacetifolia, a fast-growing and relatively low-maintenance plant, plays a crucial role in maintaining soil condition, uncovering raw nutrient reserves in the soil, and preventing nutrient leaching. Historically, chemical weed control, especially for T4 type weeds like goosefoots, was employed in Phacelia cultivation. However, the withdrawal of herbicides has posed a significant challenge in managing weed growth within the plant culture.

What are the success factors in solving the problem?

Innovative Technological Approach: The use of a field heavy cultivator ensuring uniform soil surface, tools for managing weed growth, and the application of a highly sensitive photo selector provide innovative solutions for the cultivation technology based on mechanical weed control in phacelia.

Consortium Collaboration: The collaboration of three farms (Szűcs Mg. Ltd., Szemes Művek Ltd., Pribránszki György) in consortium form has established the framework of the project, effectively combining the knowledge and resources of agricultural producers, researchers, and consultants.

Comprehensive Data Collection and Evaluation: The setup of experiments on 5-hectare operational-sized plots and the collection of objective data across different soil types and weed conditions enable the availability of comprehensive and reliable information on phacelia cultivation without the use of herbicides.

Unexpected fails, if any

We are not aware of any.

Lessons learned

Withdrawal of herbicides: The project became necessary because the previously approved herbicides were withdrawn from the market. This posed a serious problem in the cultivation of phacelia, especially in the control of T4 type weeds, such as goosefoots.

Management of weed growth: The absence of measures caused a significant issue in phacelia cultures regarding weed growth. The aggressive spread of goosefoots not only damages the soil but also complicates seed cleaning, and the sensitivity of phacelia to pesticides results in significant yield reduction.

Innovative approach for a solution: The project’s innovative approach relies on a cultivation technology based on mechanical weed control for phacelia. This includes tools for creating an even soil surface, devices for managing weed growth, and a high-sensitivity photo selector. Through these innovations, the plant can be effectively cultivated in an environmentally friendly manner, without the use of approved herbicides.

What role does the advisor or advisory service play within the practical case?

Continuous Advisory: Registered advisor Beatrix Kopácsi provides ongoing agricultural technology advice to the participating agricultural producers throughout the three years. This includes guidance and recommendations on applying mechanical weed control technology for phacelia.

Knowledge Transfer and Training: The advisor actively participates in the project team whose goal is to develop, document, and transfer agricultural technology for public use. Through this, advisor has the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with other consortium members.

Supervision and Evaluation: The advisor along with colleagues from the ÖMKI and external assistance from Dr. Pinke Gyula (SZE), participates in supervising and evaluating agricultural technology investigations. This involves visually inspecting the sown crops, taking samples after harvest, and contributing to the examination of the cost implications of the agricultural technology.

Examination of Apicultural Aspects: The advisor contributes to the examination of apicultural aspects through the involvement of a beekeeper in the project. This allows for the investigation of phacelia’s internal values, sugar content, etc….

Therefore, the advisor actively participates throughout the entire project duration in the development and practical application of agricultural technology. Additionally, they contribute to knowledge sharing among consortium members and the success of the project.

Can your approach be transferred and/or adapted for other innovation challenges and regions?


Estimated transferability on a scale from 1 to 5
(where 1 is easy and 5 very difficult)


For sharing the experience on the good practice, please contact András Vér (ver.andras@sze.hu)