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Benefits for the environment

Reduces soil erosion

By killing weeds but leaving roots in place, using paraquat stabilizes the soil. Using paraquat in conjunction with less soil tillage helps to preserve organic matter. This is good for soil health and structure, increasing fertility, improving water infiltration and retention, and locking up carbon dioxide. Conservation tillage systems have higher soil organic matter content which sequesters carbon dioxide, so crops produced in this way have a lower carbon footprint.

Case Study

In the five year Sagip-Lupa project in the Philippines researchers have been collaborating to study approaches to reducing the serious threat to food production and the environment posed by soil erosion.

On the three experimental sites an average of more than 100 tonnes/ha of topsoil has been lost each year by farming in the traditional way. The large savings of precious topsoil from using paraquat and no-till are all statistically significant.

Enhances biodiversity

Conservation tillage systems provide better habitats above ground, in the soil and away from fields when less run-off into waterways improves local aquatic environments.

Case Study

Leaving stubble and chaff from the previous crop on the soil surface, and undisturbed no-till soil, provides habitats for invertebrates and small wildlife. Birds are often present in greater numbers, feeding on spilled grain and weed seeds, insects or small mammals.

One bird species now thriving in no-till fields in the intensive soybean growing areas to the north and south of Sao Paulo in Brazil is the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia). These birds nest and roost in holes in the ground, perhaps dug by prairie dogs, for instance. 

Conserves water quality

Paraquat is extremely tightly bound to soil so does not leach to groundwater. Its use in no-till systems means less soil is washed off fields and into watercourses, taking with it nutrients which cause excessive growth of algae, reducing oxygen levels and seriously impacting aquatic life.

Case Study

Scientists at Benguet State University in the north of the Philippines have worked with vegetable growers using paraquat-based systems.

These were found to reduce soil erosion and water run-off by over one third and to reduce farm input costs by 73%.

In their RED facts document, the US EPA concluded that “paraquat is not expected or considered to be a groundwater concern from normal paraquat dichloride use patterns”.