Why Does Regenerative Agriculture Support the Use of Glyphosate?
The EU Commission has renewed the approval of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) for 10 years, sparking outrage among activists and environmental organizations. However, do you know the environmental consequences of the alternatives?
At Agroganic, we are happy about the decision to renew the approval of glyphosate. Some may argue that of course we are, since we are an agricultural company, but it goes deeper than that. We also value nature, biodiversity, and sustainability. If you find these perspectives contradictory, read on.
Let’s talk about the alternatives
We all want food on the table and that requires cultivating the land, including weed control in one way or another. If glyphosate is banned, there is only one alternative: mechanical soil disturbance.
Why not choose a gentler chemical alternative? Because it doesn’t exist. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide globally because it is the most tested, mild, and effective product available. It is the only broad-spectrum herbicide approved in the EU. In other parts of the world, paraquat and glufosinate are used as broad-spectrum herbicides, but they are not allowed in the EU due to their greater toxicity and environmental consequences.
If we are banned from using chemicals, the only other option is to do mechanical weed control by plowing and harrowing. The problem with this is that soil disturbance has negative consequences for the climate, soil health, and biodiversity. Plowing is inherently a total habitat demolition, destroying the living-conditions not only for weeds but also for insects, fungi, earthworms, ground-nesting bird species, and other soil-dwelling organisms. Since glyphosate only works on green plants, it is a much gentler method that affects fewer non-target organisms.
Glyphosate is the path to fewer pesticides
That’s why, at Agroganic, we believe that no-till, regenerative farming practices are part of the future of sustainable agriculture – and that includes glyphosate. Glyphosate allows us to grow our crops in more environmentally friendly ways. Those practicing regenerative agriculture at large-scale would have to shift to less sustainable methods with more pesticides if glyphosate were banned.
In regenerative cultivation, we use principles that allow us to largely avoid spraying. For example, by not tilling the soil, many beneficial insects can thrive and help control pests. This means that many regenerative farmers use much less pesticides – or none at all – compared to their conventional counterparts.
Moreover, a key element of regenerative cultivation is the use of cover crops that add nutrients to the soil, improve soil structure, and reduce leaching. However, these cover crops typically need to be destroyed with glyphosate in the spring to sow the main crop.
The amount of weed control needed in regenerative systems is typically less than in conventional and organic farming. This is because when there is no plowing, the soil seed bank is not disturbed, resulting in fewer germinating weeds. Through targeted weed control with glyphosate and without plowing, the weed seed bank in the soil will decrease over time, reducing the need for glyphosate spraying.
Regenerative agriculture is the future
The debate surrounding glyphosate is sparked by a desire for a more environmentally friendly world and a more sustainable agricultural sector. At Agroganic, we believe that a no-till, regenerative approach is the path to a more sustainable future that also accommodates nature—and that includes glyphosate for now. When transitioning to no-till cultivation, the farmer is reliant on glyphosate for weed control to successfully establish the new cultivation system.
That’s why we consider glyphosate the gentlest alternative, and we welcome the EU Commission’s decision to extend its use. If you are curious to learn more about no-till and regenerative agriculture, contact Agroganic today to find out how we can help. Read more about the Agroganic’s definition of regenerative agriculture here: https://agroganic.com/regenerative-agriculture/