Like farmers, we think in terms of generations. Not just about crops or people, but all the rich diversity of life that exists in our world.Plants, animals, insects and billions upon billions of microscopic organisms call our planet “home.” They affect how our crops are pollinated, where we find our nutrients and how we live our daily lives. When farmers protect the land, they protect soil that gives life to bacteria and fungi. These organisms, in turn, feed insects, birds, and other wildlife, which are crucial to the health of our plants and crops. When we care for life at every stage of the cycle, we allow the world to thrive.
It’s important that we take concrete steps to protect our vast biodiversity. Tools like glyphosate help us get there. When used as directed, it provides a lot of good for our ecosystem without causing any unreasonable risks for insects and animals.
What farmers have known for decades may come as a surprise to most: While glyphosate excels at managing weeds, it also helps enable practices that conserve water and promote the health of our soil and air.
Glyphosate Helps Protect Water Quality
About one percent of the world’s water supply is freshwater. The rest of our supply is saltwater, which isn’t much help to thirsty people or plants. For this reason, it’s important that we maintain and protect the finite amount of freshwater that we have.
No-till farming is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. This method — enabled by tools like glyphosate — allows valuable nutrients and moisture to remain in the fields where farmers need them. When tillage is reduced, farmers prevent soil erosion, reducing water run-off and making use of rainwater in their fields. These practices decrease the need for irrigation and allow farmers to protect freshwater sources.
Glyphosate has a unique combination of qualities that allow it to bind strongly to the soil. It begins breaking down immediately, and over time, degrades into naturally occurring substances such as phosphate, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, making it unlikely to enter our groundwater.
Glyphosate Helps Build Healthier Soil
For generations, tillage was necessary to control weeds. But with the help of glyphosate-based herbicides, farmers are able to prepare soil for planting by killing weeds and leaving helpful crop residue on their fields. When this residue breaks down, it builds up the organic matter in the soil, which supports biodiversity in the form of increasing populations of microbes.
These soil-based organisms work together to improve soil health, allowing farmers to grow more while conserving resources.
It’s no secret that glyphosate allows farmers to reduce weeds that compete with crops for nutrients, water, sunlight and space. But by reducing the competition for resources, farmers are also able to grow their crops using less land, preserving the natural areas around their operation.
Our farms and the land surrounding them are home to millions of species, all of which work together to maintain the ecosystem. Many of these organisms, such as pollinator species, are crucial to the health of our crops and plants. Through tools like glyphosate, farmers are able to be more productive with their land, leaving more space for hummingbirds, butterflies, bats, moths and many other organisms that play a role in the reproduction of fruits, flowers, shrubs and trees.
When farmers protect the environment for insects, birds and wildlife, they’re actually safeguarding the same ecosystem that, in turn, supports a healthy farm.
Glyphosate Assists in Fighting Climate Change
Today, farmers are directly facing the effects of climate change. Extreme weather changes bring more intense rains, longer dry periods and higher heat, as well as other serious impacts, such as the migration of species that used to live primarily in tropical environments. These changes threaten the future of our plants, insects and animals, in addition to our ecosystem.
Glyphosate is just one of the tools helping farmers do their part to combat climate change. In 2014, reduced tillage resulted in a reduction of carbon emissions equivalent to removing nearly 2 million cars from the road. The adoption of no-till methods has also allowed farmers to reduce the number of tractor passes required on the land, both before and after harvest.
By growing crops that are more productive, using less tillage and leaving the soil undisturbed, farmers are helping control carbon in the atmosphere.
Glyphosate Aids in Global Reforestation Efforts
In the United States, Indonesia, Brazil and many other countries where glyphosate is being used, farmers are growing more on less land. These efforts, in turn, allow advocates to preserve the surrounding areas through reforestation. By implementing these techniques, farmers are restoring biodiversity to the ecosystem and protecting thousands — upon thousands — of plants, mammals, insects, birds and reptiles in the process.
Similar efforts are taking place around the globe. When we use crop protection tools like glyphosate, we rededicate land to our natural environment and safeguard habitats for wildlife.
Glyphosate Controls Weeds & Supports Life
We’re thinking about the generations of tomorrow by maintaining the diversity of life in our world today. That means using less land and fewer resources, protecting the health of our soil and water, preserving natural habitats and reducing carbon emissions.
The benefits of glyphosate reinforce what farmers have known for decades — and what some people might never expect: Though glyphosate was designed to help farmers eliminate weeds, it also helps our farms, our ecosystem and our world to thrive.