Weed resistance

Soybean stands out from other major crops: broad leaved rather than a grass; a legume, so plants supply their own needs for nitrogen fertilizer while increasing the fertility of the land; soybeans are rich in oil, protein and carbohydrate; and the crop has been highly developed by plant breeders and agronomists. This makes soybean arguably the world’s most versatile crop.
With such a broad nutritional base, soybeans are a staple food and animal feed. Whole beans provide flours; soya oil is used in cooking and food; protein-rich soya meal left after oil extraction is an important livestock feed; and soya protein is used in drinks, baby food, noodles, and as a meat and dairy substitute.
A significant amount of soybean production in the US, in particular, now goes to make biodiesel (5 to 10% each year). Biodiesel is not soya’s first connection with motor vehicles. In 1941, Henry Ford’s enthusiasm for finding industrial uses for crops resulted in the manufacture of the ‘Biological Car’ made for an exhibition. The vehicle’s entire bodywork was made from plastic derived from soybeans!
Paraquat is an essential tool for soybean farmers
Soybeans stand out from other major crops: broad leaved rather than a grass; a legume, so plants supply their own needs for nitrogen fertilizer while increasing the fertility of the land; and soybeans are rich in oil, protein and carbohydrate.
In the US, soybeans are grown on half of the 30 million hectares on which no-till farming is practiced. In Brazil, no-till has also been widely adopted for soybeans. Broad-spectrum herbicides, led by the introduction of paraquat in the 1960s, allowed the adoption and growth of no-till which does not rely on controlling weeds by burial from ploughing.
Soybean fact file 111 million hectares grown worldwide in 2013
90% or more of all soybean fields in USA and Argentina are GM
70% increase in productivity since 2000
40% of bean weight is oil rich in monounsaturated oleic acid
12% of US soybeans were used to make biodiesel in 2014
13 million hectares under no-till in USA
No-till systems save cash, time and fuel, improve soil structure, reduce erosion and provide havens for wildlife. Paraquat is deactivated on contact with the soil meaning that it can be sprayed to burndown weeds before planting without risking crop damage from root uptake. Paraquat works well even in cold and rainy weather.
Maize, often called corn, along with wheat and rice is one of the world’s top crops. Maize provides basic staple foods for much of the world’s population. All around the world maize grain is a basic livestock feed, and the crop can be cut while still green to make silage as a winter feed. Also, increasing amounts of maize in the US are being used to make bioethanol fuel.
Maize, perhaps more than any other crop, reaches both high and low extremes of sophistication, mechanisation and technology in crop production. But, all farmers need to maximise the yield and quality of their produce, while saving the costs, time and labor needed to grow it.
Broad-spectrum herbicides, led by the introduction of paraquat in the 1960’s, have allowed the adoption and growth of soil cultivation systems which do not rely on controlling weeds by burial from ploughing.
Cotton is a fibre which protects the seed of the cotton plant, much as the flesh of an apple protects the pips.
In 1997, GM cotton tolerant to the non-selective herbicide glyphosate was introduced. Although herbicide tolerant cotton has many advantages, it has contributed to enormous increases in the use of glyphosate which is now posing problems by encouraging the development of resistant weeds which are no longer controlled by this herbicide.
No more than two applications of glyphosate should be applied to any one field over two seasons. Paraquat can provide the alternative means of effective and sustainable weed control.
Using paraquat in weed control programmes can also address a number of environmental issues concerned with cotton growing including soil erosion and degradation, water contamination by run-off and leaching of agrochemicals, and loss of habitats and effects on biodiversity.
Paraquat is deactivated on contact with the soil meaning that it can be sprayed to burndown weeds before planting a cotton crop without risking damage to that crop or indeed subsequent crops in the rotation. It does not pollute soil or surface waters because it is immobilised and deactivated immediately on contact with soil.
Citrus fruit make-up a vast family including not only oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, but also calamondins, citrons, pomelos and ugli fruit.
Integrated pest management (IPM) systems have been introduced to minimize the impact of citrus growing on soil, water, air and biodiversity.  Paraquat has a key role in sustainable citrus production by controlling weeds that would otherwise seriously reduce productivity.  It can be used in conjunction with other techniques to manage soil erosion, particularly the use of strips of grass or legume cover crops between trees.
Paraquat can be safely sprayed to manage the weed flora along the crop rows between the grass or legume strips without fear of damaging the citrus trees.  Paraquat is immobile in soil and cannot move to the roots and up into the shoots.  Tree bark cannot be penetrated by paraquat meaning that it can be sprayed right up to the base of the trees.  Even if paraquat drifts onto citrus leaves there is little or no damage because paraquat does not move through plants like glyphosate does.
Citrus fact file 1:  Brazil is the leading citrus growing country
8.7 million ha of citrus are grown worldwide
43% are oranges, 27% mandarin types, 11% lemons and limes, 3% grapefruit
33% of crops are grown for juice
Pull on a pair of jeans and literally enjoy the fruits of one of the world’s major crops and two industrial revolutions. The demin in jeans is a weave of cotton, originally ‘de Nimes’ in France.
Cotton is a fibre which protects the seed of the cotton plant, much as the flesh of an apple protects the pips. So, fruit are not only for eating.
In late 18th century England, James Hargreaves’s ‘spinning jenny’ led developments in cotton spinning technology for the textile industry and primed the Industrial Revolution, leading to factories and mass production.
Now cotton is a crop at the forefront of the revolution in biotechnology, being the second genetically modified (GM) crop to be introduced in broadacre agriculture after soybeans, in 1997. One of the main traits in GM cotton is tolerance to applications of the non-selective herbicide glyphosate. Other GM cotton varieties provide protection against some of the many insects which can ravage the crop. The choice of herbicide resistance as an early target for biotechnology research indicates the importance of effective weed control in cotton.
In this section you will find articles about paraquat's environmental profile. One of paraquat's key chemical properties, fundamental to the way it is used in sustainable farming systems, is that it is inactivated immediately on contact with soil.
 
Paraquat has been an essential tool for farmers in protecting sustainable cropping systems for more than 50 years. Its unique properties have enabled the development of vital new crop production techniques, especially no-till.
This section includes in-depth features that cover topics including:
Paraquat's role in sustainable agriculture
All about weeds and weed control
Important crops and their production systems
Controls weeds
Paraquat is an important tool for weed management. It controls many species and can be used with most crops. Its mode of action means that it is especially valuable where intensive use of glyphosate has caused, or threatens to cause, the development of glyphosate resistant weeds.
Case Study
The extensive adoption of glyphosate tolerant GM crops has led to farmers over-relying on glyphosate.
Although glyphosate is encouraging the continued adoption of no-till, with all the benefits to soil conservation that brings, up to three million hectares in Brazil are now estimated to be infested with glyphosate resistant weeds.
However, an integrated weed control system involves continuing to spray glyphosate for burndown, but following just before or just after planting the crop with an application of a paraquat-based herbicide.
Read more …
 
 
Acts fast
Paraquat acts fast in all seasons, no matter what the conditions: hot, dry, wet, early season or late. Paraquat is rainfast in 15 - 30 minutes.
Case Study
In West Bengal, India, using paraquat to burndown weeds in a no-till system means farmers can transplant a new rice crop after only four days compared to the usual 12 days. Traditionally, fields are plowed and farmers have to wait for buried weeds to decompose sufficiently to allow a final cultivation.
Articles in this section are about specific examples of how paraquat is being used and new uses explored in sustainable cropping systems.
The case studies show how farmers, their families and their land can benefit by farming with paraquat; and how this enables them to grow better crops.