Alternate Title: Actually, No. We Don’t “Douse” Our Crops With Glyphosate. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that farmers spray “poison” on their crops by “dousing” or “soaking” glyphosate all over them. For those who don’t know, glyphosate is a common, broad-spectrum herbicide that a lot of farmers choose to use. It was invented by a Monsanto chemist and sold under the trade name Roundup, which is why it has such a bad reputation. FYI, Monsanto isn’t the only company who makes glyphosate, yet they seem to take the beating for it. One of the brands of glyphosate our farm uses is called Traxion, sold by Syngenta. You can buy glyphosate at most grocery and home improvement stores, as a matter of fact (in case you wanted to poison weeds like it’s intended use).
An analogy I’d like to present you with, is like when you go to the drug store. You don’t have to buy the Tylenol (brand name) brand of acetaminophen (generic name), you can buy the Walmart brand of acetaminophen, or the Target brand, or any other brand that you like—farmers have choices in their glyphosate just like you have your choice of acetaminophen.
I talked with my farmer husband, who has a degree in Crop Sciences if you were wondering if he had any clout on the subject matter, and I wanted to know exactly how much glyphosate is on the crops so I could prove to the world that (at least) our farm is not “dousing” our crops with it. Let’s start with some facts provided by my farmer:
- Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, needs little coverage for great control.
- Glyphosate is sprayed at 3-5 US gallons/acre of water
- Most herbicides use 10 US gallons/acre of water as recommended
- Most brands are concentrated so you can get more product in the same package. (Let’s use the medicine analogy again, think of it like pills of Tylenol—a regular strength pill of 325 mg is less concentrated than their extra strength pill of 500 mg, but they are the same size of pill. In farming—for Syngenta’s Traxion, 1 L = 0.72 L of Traxion)
- RoundUp Ready (GMO) crops are typically registered for 1 L equivalent ratio applied either 1 or 2 applications for total for pre-burn off (before the farmer seeds the crop, they “burn”/kill the weeds in the pre-seeded field with glyphosate)
- In the spring for early growth in crops we use a rate of 0.5 L/acre
- In crop we use 1 application at a rate of about 0.75 L/acre
- For pre-harvest the application rate is 0.75-1 L/acre
Confused? Me too. Let me break it down in an infographic:
So there you have it. Of course these results will vary on the brand of glyphosate a farmer uses, it’s concentration and the method in which it’s used for. Essentially, try evenly spraying out 1 pop can over an area of 1 acre and that’s how much glyphosate we spray on our crops for a 1/2 litre application. Simply double that to ~2 pop cans for a 1 litre/acre application, which is the maximum amount we use—still not that much, hardly “dousing” or “soaking”. Here is a visual for how big an acre is:
I read an anti-GMO articles earlier in the year (I apologize, I’ve tried searching and cannot find it), and the author said before she thought sprayers were going up and down the fields irrigating the crops with water and she was then shocked to learn that those sprayers were “full of toxic chemicals”, or some other quotation of the like. The thing is, she’s not that far off—sprayer tanks are mostly filled with water mixed with the proper amount of herbicide according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Does my husband use PPE (aka the hazmat suits and rubber gloves you see in scary memes)? Absolutely, when directed by the manufacturer. That is because he works with these chemicals in their concentrated forms and needs to be safe about it just like when I handle formalyn at work as a nurse. When he is spraying the herbicide mixed with water it is diluted and safe to apply to our crops.
A really important thing to remember is: the dose makes the poison. This goes for anything—not just pesticides used in agriculture!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, I did not get paid to write it, all opinions on this blog are my own. Image used with permission from Simon Ellis and graphics for infographic purchased from Graphic Leftovers. It is also important to note that even though it is clearly stated many times, this information is pertinent to how much glyphosate we use on our farm for our Roundup Ready canola. Applications may vary farm to farm, crop to crop. It is up to each farm to use according to the label.