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Stephen Powles doesn’t beat around the bush. The veteran weed scientist says no-till in Australia can’t survive without the use of glyphosate as a burndown herbicide. In fact, the director of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative at the University of Western Australia says the widespread adoption of no-till is due to the use of glyphosate.
In an article in Australia’s Farm Weekly magazine, Powles says no-till paved the way for a cropping system which has protected Australia’s fragile low organic matter soils while allowing large-scale growers to maintain production during the past two decades of generally tough seasons.
Australia differs from the U.S. in that it has a hot climate and concentrates growing grows crops during the winter and not during the summer months when it’s too hot and receives very little rain. The major crop is wheat followed by barley, canola and lupines.
More than 70% of the wheat is no-tilled in western Australia to curb wind erosion and save moisture. “If you want to make money in Australia, you must have at least 6,000 acres for one family,” he says.
“If you’ve got a farm with a creative rotation of wheat, wheat, wheat and more wheat and it’s treated with Roundup, followed by Roundup, followed by more Roundup, you have a recipe for herbicide resistance. Unfortunately, that’s what has happened in Australia.”
Powles says glyphosate’s future is threatened not only by increasing weed resistance concerns, but also by regulatory challenges with numerous…