Food and pasture growers as well as the forestry industry rely on glyphosate to prevent deep-rooted weeds from taking over their crops and decimating productivity, according to a report by the NZIER on the benefits of glyphosate to New Zealand.
The world’s most widely-used weed management tool has extensive economic and environmental benefits.
It enables farmers and growers to deliver food and fibre efficiently, cost-effectively, and to a higher quality – allowing access to safe and affordable food.
The report estimates that herbicides are worth up to $8.6 billion to NZ agriculture, with an average impact on output of up to 20%.
Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that can eliminate nearly all weeds, which many other herbicides cannot. Without it, producers would face substantial weed pressure – as weeds compete with crops for light, water and nutrients. An even greater pressure exists with climate change and the need for farming practices to become more sustainable.
Farmers can reduce their environmental footprint by minimising tillage – benefiting soil health, lessening carbon emissions, conserving water and reducing labour and fuel costs. Glyphosate can be applied with fertiliser, seeds and cover crops in one go – saving time and money.
If glyphosate was not available, farmers would need to use three to four other herbicides in its place, leading to more tillage and more resources to manage weeds.
Substitute products are often more toxic or less effective, explains the report.
Taking this vital tool away from farmers would lead to more mechanical weeding, more time spent ploughing, and more money spent on fuel.
Councils also use glyphosate to manage weeds in public spaces, including railways and roadways, to improve visibility and enhance safety. A fourfold increase in costs with worse outcomes is likely if glyphosate isn’t available.