EU to further increase pesticide reduction targets, but it could be the weeds that are in for a shock
The European Union has set a goal to reduce the use and risk of hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030. However, a leaked draft report from the European Parliament shows that the Member leading the revision of the EU’s pesticide framework is pushing for more ambition, advocating for an 80% reduction in the use of more hazardous plant protection products by 2030. This goal is in line with the demands of the citizens’ initiative, ‘Save bees and farmers’, which called for a general reduction of synthetic plant protection products by 80%.
In recent years farmers have had worries about their ‘toolbox shrinking’, but fortunately, there is a solution that can help farmers meet this target: electric weed control (eWeeding).
eWeeding kills all weeds, delivering full control in independent trials. Moreover, electricity treats deep into the roots, and does not disturb the soil or seed bed, helping to reduce new weed growth, and create healthy soils to capture carbon.
Furthermore, while weeds might develop resistance to chemical herbicides, this is not the case with eWeeding.
This method is not only effective, but also safe for earthworms and other soil macrofauna, and can be used near water courses and in environmentally sensitive areas.
In addition, eWeeding can be lower cost than using chemical herbicides on a per hectare, per season basis.
RootWave will release its first tractor-powered eWeeding machine in 2024 for use in orchards and vineyards, with products for arable row crops expected from 2026.
If the EU are to take bold steps towards protecting ecosystems by increasing their pesticide reduction goals – in the case of weed control at least, farmers may actually be heading for a better future than they imagined.
In numbers – the squeeze on herbicides:
- In the EU, chemical herbicides that account for 82% of the herbicide value in fruit crops are being revoked or are at significant risk of being revoked. (33% for cereal crops, 87% for broad-acre row-crops, 94% for vegetables, and 98% in municipalities).
- There is herbicide resistance with 68% of the current modes of action. No new herbicide mode of action has been discovered in the past 20 years.
- In fruit crops, glyphosate accounts for 76% of the herbicides used. 88% of academic studies since 2016 conclude glyphosate is carcinogenic. In the EU, its license was extended by one year until end-2023 whilst the authorities reassess its safety. Glyphosate was recently withdrawn for US Consumers due to safety concerns and litigation costs. There are currently 533 legal cases against herbicide manufacturers relating to safety.
- EU Green Deal looking to halve the use of pesticides, including herbicides, by 2030 and COP15 committed to halving the risk from pesticides by 2030.
- There is a 11% CAGR in organic retail sales and 8% in organic farmland with EU committed to increasing organic farmland to 25% by 2030.