Frank Comments: Glyphosate Concerns Growing

OVER THE PAST four decades, much of the no-till acreage increase that has taken place across North America has been due to the development of glyphosate herbicide and glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans. But at the same time, the continued use of glyphosate has led to serious concerns about the future of this highly effective weed control product.

Last spring’s seventh annual No-Till Farmer benchmark survey indicated that 98% of our readers rely on glyphosate for weed control. So, the continued lack of adopting alternate weed control chemistries is definitely a worry.

Huge Savings

Managing glyphosate-resistance is definitely more cost effective than ignoring the problem. The data shown at left in this month’s No-Till-Age table demonstrates the favorable economic return when weed resistance is effectively managed. And there’s going to be even more of an economic incentive to do so as the number of resistant weeds continues to grow.

Staffers at USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) found 93% of the U.S. soybean acreage was planted with herbicide-tolerant varieties in 2013, along with 85% of the corn acreage. While ERS economists say the number of acres treated with glyphosate alone declined during a recent 6-year period, soybean growers have added other herbicides as more glyphosate-resistant weeds show up in their fields.

Less Effective 

Growers reported a decline in the effectiveness of glyphosate in controlling weeds on nearly 44% of the soybean acres 3 years ago.

The reduced effectiveness of glyphosate definitely has impacted yields, production costs and returns. As an example, soybean…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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