Glyphosate Facts

Transparency on safety aspects and use of glyphosate-containing herbicides in Europe


Non-agricultural uses of glyphosate

In addition to the agricultural use of glyphosate there are a variety of non-agricultural situations where broad-spectrum weed control is important. These applications include farmyard areas, car parks and verges, but also industrial complexes and railway tracks, where weeds can hide potential hazards or pose potential safety risks and fire hazards.
Weeds can, for instance, build up on and underneath railway tracks, which can restrict drainage and speed up the decay of wooden railway sleepers.

Weeds can pose serious safety risks on railway tracks. In the UK, glyphosate is frequently used to remove weeds that can speed up the decay of wooden railway sleepers
(© Juliane Drechsel/

There are several alternative methods of removing weeds from non-agricultural areas, including mechanical removal, flaming or brushing. However, the use of glyphosate is considered to be the most effective treatment, in terms of cost and time, for controlling weeds on hard surfaces. Weed control in these situations should respond to an integrated approach where chemical control with glyphosate is one more available option.
Glyphosate has also been useful to control weeds before forestry plantations or as directed application around each tree over the first years. In this way, the new trees use all the light, moisture and fertilizer in the soil, growing faster than under the competition of weeds and facilitating CO2 fixation by the forest. Directed applications of glyphosate in firebreaks also help to reduce the risk from wildfires avoiding the soil disturbance of alternative mechanical tools.

Last update: 25 October 2012