22 November 2021
A recent study* conducted by UWA graduate student, Alison Walsh, demonstrates that the use of pesticides generates more profit for producers, reduces labour time, effort and cost, while affording conservation-agriculture techniques which conserve soil and sequester carbon.
The study highlights what farmer practices have been demonstrating for generations – the use of pesticides generates substantial profit and time savings on Australian farms. These commonly-used products are so important that an average Australian broadacre farm could see annual revenues decline from $458,000 to $197,000 without them.
One of the herbicides considered in the research, Glyphosate, is an effective and cheap non-selective herbicide often used in combination with other products. Were farmers to lose access to herbicides, like glyphosate, they would be forced to adopt a range of more expensive management tactics and strategies to control weeds. This includes increased labour costs and increased soil-damaging mechanical controls, such as tillage or combustion.
The idea of banning certain herbicides has gained international headlines through activist organisations peddling dangerous misinformation about the safety of these products they are ideologically opposed to.
What a sensationalist headline doesn’t portray, though, is the robust science and assessment these products are subject to from independent government regulatory agencies.
Every independent science-based regulator globally has comprehensively evaluated glyphosate and found it safe to use, providing assurance that these products should remain available to farmers and other pesticide users.
The UWA study modelled the increase in the price of grain if some crop protection products were to be removed from the global market. Unsurprisingly, a decrease in yield from lack of pesticide options would see grain commodities increase and, as a result, food prices spike. At a time when the world is considering how to produce more for a growing population, anything that further risks food security must be avoided.
Farmers need access to more – not less – crop protection products to continue their work due to increasing levels of resistance that plant pests and weeds develop. Additional pest management options will maintain the effectiveness and the life of all these crucial farming tools.
CropLife Australia’s Resistance Management Strategies are developed as part of a commitment to make the most up-to-date resistance management advice freely available for farmers. The strategies are reviewed and updated on an annual basis by scientific technical review
committees in consultation with relevant national and international experts.
*Economic implications of the loss of glyphosate and paraquat on Australian mixed enterprise farms. Alison Walsh, Ross Kingwell. 2021.