Will Herbicides Reduce Long-Term Yields?

Photo of an employee taking a break from manual cleaning between plantain treesAn employee taking a break from manual cleaning between plantain treesA recent article in the NY Times highlighted that a number of farmers in the US corn belt are seeing diminished returns from the use of popular herbicide glyphosate, or more popularly known as RoundUp.

This herbicide is a very popular tool used by plantation companies in Panama to control the quick growing undergrowth that can impede the development of trees.

What's most interesting is the story of a farmer who used the herbicide frequently and then stopped because he noticed his soil compacting and required a bigger tractor to till it. Since stopping using glyphosate he has continued to realize average to above average yields.

We’ve don’t use glyphosate to control vegetation growth on our plantations because we want to protect the long term fertility of our soils. We believe this will ultimately lead to better growth of our tropical woods and plantains. There’s also the obvious health risks of exposing our employees to to hazardous chemicals through fumigaition.

It will be interesting to see the longer term studies on the impacts of using this herbicide on crop yields. In the meantime, we look forward to comparing our long term results results to those forestry companies using glyphosate to control vegetation.