Trade-offs constrain the success of glyphosate-free farming

Metcalfe, H.; Storkey, J.; Hull, R.; Bullock, J.M. ORCID:; Whitmore, A.; Sharp, R.T.; Milne, A.E.. 2024 Trade-offs constrain the success of glyphosate-free farming. Scientific Reports, 14, 8001. 12, pp.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N537237JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide, is linked with environmental harm and there is a drive to replace it in agricultural systems. We model the impacts of discontinuing glyphosate use and replacing it with cultural control methods. We simulate winter wheat arable systems reliant on glyphosate and typical in northwest Europe. Removing glyphosate was projected to increase weed abundance, herbicide risk to the environment, and arable plant diversity and decrease food production. Weed communities with evolved resistance to non-glyphosate herbicides were not projected to be disproportionately affected by removing glyphosate, despite the lack of alternative herbicidal control options. Crop rotations with more spring cereals or grass leys for weed control increased arable plant diversity. Stale seedbed techniques such as delayed drilling and choosing ploughing instead of minimum tillage had varying effects on weed abundance, food production, and profitability. Ploughing was the most effective alternative to glyphosate for long-term weed control while maintaining production and profit. Our findings emphasize the need for careful consideration of trade-offs arising in scenarios where glyphosate is removed. Integrated Weed Management (IWM) with more use of cultural control methods offers the potential to reduce chemical use but is sensitive to seasonal variability and can incur negative environmental and economic impacts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: agroecology, computational biology and bioinformatics, computational models, ecological modelling, ecology, environmental sciences
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 08 Apr 2024 15:20 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...