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Agro-Economic Analysis of the Use of Glyphosate in Germany

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Glyphosate is a widely used broad-spectrum, non-selective herbicide, which is utilized for the post-emergence control of annual and perennial weeds in a variety of agricultural and non-crop applications. It plays a pivotal role in combating weeds, particularly in environmentally friendly conservation tillage. The compulsory re-registration of active substances as plant protection agents is on the agenda on a regular basis. This is also the case for the active substance glyphosate. In any re-registration related to herbicides, the importance of plant resistances in the field of weed control has to be taken into consideration. Therefore, to slow down the rate of spread of weed resistances the maintenance of a broad spectrum of active substances is of paramount importance. Glyphosate plays an important role in the management of herbicide resistance in German crop production. Overall, 30% of the arable land is treated with glyphosate annually. Furthermore, the use of glyphosate is more or less indispensable for no-plough-tillage. In most regions for every crop more than 80% of the no-plough-tillage areas (mulch-sowing) are treated with glyphosate. In the northern region, almost 100% of the no-plough-tillage (mulch-sowing) areas for maize and sugarbeet are treated. Therefore, a ban on glyphosate would lead to fewer no-plough-tillage areas (mulch-sowing). Furthermore, a potential ban on glyphosate would cause very high monetary impacts for German agriculture. The gross margins for the crop rotation winter wheat/winter wheat/winter rapeseed and for the spring crops maize and sugarbeet would be lowered by a maximum of 36%. That would result in lower production, change of the trade status from a net exporter to a net-importer for wheat and coarse grain and increase the import deficit for oilseeds and maize. In conclusion, the total annual EU-welfare in case of a ban on glyphosate would be reduced by a minimum of $1.4 billion to a maximum of $4.2 billion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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