En­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of us­ing glyphosate

Waipa Post - - The Country -

the soil, i.e. less evap­o­ra­tion. This con­serves wa­ter, due to crops re­quir­ing less ir­ri­ga­tion. It also re­duces the runoff of con­tam­i­nated wa­ter — by, for ex­am­ple, fer­tiliser us­age.

Some es­ti­mates sug­gest crop residues pro­vide as much as five cen­time­tres of ad­di­tional wa­ter to crops in late sum­mer. No-till farmed soils have a wa­ter pen­e­tra­tion rate of 13 cen­time­tres per hour — twice as much as for con­ven­tion­ally tilled land — mak­ing no-till farm­ing an ex­cel­lent op­tion for drought-prone ar­eas of the coun­try.

Be­cause the soil is not fre­quently ag­i­tated, the prac­tice pro­motes bio­di­ver­sity in and around the soil. Or­gan­isms like my­c­or­rhizal fungi, which make com­men­sal as­so­ci­a­tions with crop roots, and earth­worms, in­crease wa­ter re­ten­tion in the soil. These or­gan­isms flour­ish through no-till farm­ing — ben­e­fit­ing the plant and fun­gus.

Adopt­ing no-till farm­ing re­duces car­bon emis­sions from me­chan­i­cal equip­ment as well as labour and fuel costs. Con­ven­tional tillage re­quires as many as five passes over the land with a plough. No-till re­quires one — to plant the seeds. By run­ning the trac­tor less, a fuel sav­ing of up to 80 per cent can be re­alised.

An­other way to re­duce car­bon emis­sions is by pair­ing no-till farm­ing with crop cov­er­ing — plant­ing crops for the ex­press pur­pose of soil health. This re­duces emis­sions through greater se­ques­tra­tion of car­bon diox­ide by the soil. Over half of the po­ten­tial car­bon se­ques­tra­tion from farm­lands comes from con­ser­va­tion tillage.

En­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits aside — with­out glyphosate — farm­ers would need to man­u­ally till their land to re­move weeds. That would cat­a­pult New Zealand farm­ers back to the agri­cul­tural meth­ods of the 1970s and 1980s.

Why would we want to do that, when glyphosate has recorded over forty years of safe use in New Zealand?

There are other her­bi­cides we can use — and other weed con­trol strate­gies be­sides those. But, nearly all of them come with greater en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, es­pe­cially in our grain in­dus­try where it is a cor­ner­stone of no-till agri­cul­ture.

It is crit­i­cal that glyphosate con­tin­ues as a prod­uct of choice for New Zealand. Push­ing farm­ers away from no-till farm­ing and back to­wards more harm­ful tools for weed man­age­ment makes no sense for any self-re­spect­ing farmer or en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist.

■ Mark Ross is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ag­carm, the in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion for com­pa­nies which man­u­fac­ture and dis­trib­ute crop pro­tec­tion and an­i­mal health prod­ucts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.