[Editor's note: Jake Freestone is the manager of an arable and sheep LEAF Demonstration Farm in Tewkesbury, England.]
[N]o-till or zero-till, is under threat from misinformed lobby groups trying to get the active ingredient 'glyphosate' banned from all of our European crop production systems. It is a very safe herbicide, (weedkiller) that we use instead of cultivation to kill weeds and cover crops, prior to planting our next crop. It has been a valuable tool available to farmers for the last 40 years. Without glyphostate there will be serious implications to our food security and the negative effects of cultivation, (listed above) in terms of mechanical weed control will return. It is used across the world and is one of the most rigorously tested of any pesticide, that is currently registered for use.
Without glyphostate, as part of an Integrated Farm Management approach, UK yields of wheat and oilseed rape (canola) will drop by about 20%, primarily due to weed competition. We will need to use 546,000 Ha more land to replace this lost production.
I know that not being able to use this proven, safe chemical will impact severely on what we do and how we do it; eroding the positive environmental benefits of no-till farming.
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