An experiment at Rothamsted in 1985–89 and another at Whaddon in 1986 studied the effects of incorporating straw on diseases of winter barley. Net blotch (Pyrenophora teres) and leaf blotch (Rhynchosporium secalis) were initially less severe where straw was burnt or incorporated by ploughing than where cultivations only partially buried it. However, by summer both diseases were usually more severe where straw had been burnt than where it had been incorporated. At Whaddon, eyespot (Pseudocercosporella herpotrichoides) tended to be less severe in tine-cultivated plots where straw was incorporated than where it was burnt, but at Rothamsted, where the straw treatments were confounded with cultivations, there was no consistent effect. The disease was usually more severe where straw was incorporated by ploughing than where it was incorporated using other methods. In contrast, the severity of take-all was generally decreased by ploughing. Seedlings usually grew better where straw had been burnt rather than incorporated and grain yields were often larger. However, yields at Rothamsted in 1987 were unusually, and inexplicably, smaller after burning the straw so that the 5-year mean yields showed no significant differences between treatments.