Ecological contributions of glyphosate herbicides
A return to ploughing practices would also have environmental impacts. Conservation tillage coupled with glyphosate treatment has played an important role in soil conservation, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in lowering the ecological footprint of modern agriculture in general. Reintroducing ploughing into a system that was successfully managed under conservation agriculture in Germany could potentially double the amount of CO2 released by agricultural processes into the atmosphere and would likely lead to a substantial loss of topsoil due to erosion. For instance, ploughing operations on fields that have previously been managed using conservation or minimum tillage would release an estimated 4% of the stored soil organic carbon within just one to six months 6.
Consequently, in some parts of Europe, a potential loss of glyphosate could have more severe ecological impacts than the application of glyphosate herbicides.
Last update: 06 December 2012