Prices for crop protection explode: farmers have to improvise

Mark Welch, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University, says the high costs are driving some farmers to cut back on fertilizer and crop protection use, depending on the situation. He also says that grain prices are still high enough that on highly productive land it makes economic sense to use expensive fertilizers and crop protection products to increase yields. However, in less productive areas, the high costs are more difficult to justify.

Mark Loux, a researcher at Ohio State University, says farmers need to keep weeds in check or risk a major impact on their crops. According to him, farmers have more leeway when it comes to reducing fertilizer use. “You may or may not lose some yield depending on the contribution of your land,” he says. “But once you get below a certain level of weed control, the losses will be quite noticeable.”

Rodrigo Werle, an agricultural consultant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the shortage of broad-spectrum herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate in the United States is forcing farmers to look for other avenues. Some attempt to destroy weeds mechanically, which could reduce the amount of herbicide they have to apply. Or they use other chemicals.

Werle also said farmers need to determine exactly which weeds grow in their fields so they can choose the right combination of herbicides, just as they would before GM crops (in the US) made weed control easier.

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