GMO crops and herbicides: A ‘win-win’ for farmers and the environment, plant scientist Wayne Parrott says

n SOIL x e

A fertile soil is a microbial wonderland …. a tiny ecosystem too small to see with our eyes. Yet, the soil ecosystem retains and recycles the nutrients that fertilize the plants …. Life as we know it would not be possible without soils.

However, what is good for crops is good for weeds …. Weeds rob crops of their nutrients. In any given year, weeds rob enough nutrients around the world to have fed one billion people. Clearly, farmers have to get rid of weeds ….

Over the years, nothing has been better to get rid of weeds than plowing the soil. But plowed soil easily washes away. Its organic matter burns away, and its ability to hold nutrients is destroyed ….  farmers frequently had to choose between their crop and their soil.

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Then, 20 years ago, the combination of GM crops and herbicides …. made conservation agriculture …. much easier to do …. Soil is no longer plowed to control weeds. Instead, a machine punches a small hole in the ground, and a seed gets dropped in …. However, the crop has been engineered to resist certain types of weed killers. Thus, the farmer can ….  kill the weeds without killing the crop. As a bonus, the dead weeds …. act as a blanket that protects the soil from washing away in the rain.

This new combination …. is a win-win for farmers and the environment.

Read full, original article: The largely unknown benefits of GMOs on soil health

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