Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Life cycle assessment of weed control in field crops

An environmental life cycle assessment of mechanical and mechanical-chemical weed control methods was established for ware potatoes, grain maize, winter rape and winter wheat, and compared to that of chemical techniques. Given the assumptions defined, the following conclusions can be drawn: The factors (fuel consumption, mechanisation, herbicide production, emissions, etc.) influencing the environmental impacts strongly differ according to the specific technique and crop. No general rule can be defined. Mechanical and mechanical-chemical methods contribute to the reduction of the toxic potential. This reduction strongly depends on the active ingredient used in the chemical variant. For the other environmental categories, no general conclusion can be drawn. For the crops, the techniques and the active ingredients considered, mechanical methods are to be promoted, in particular for grain maize and winter rape.

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