ETH Zürich, Institut für Agrarwissenschaften, 8092 Zürich

Implications of herbicide-free Extenso wheat cultivation in Switzerland

Various stakeholders are searching for ways to reduce herbicide use on farms. The implications of such measures, however, are often unknown. This article makes use of a bio-economic model to analyse how plant-protection strategies, yields and contribution margins change in Swiss Extenso winter-wheat cultivation if i) neither glyphosate and ii) nor other herbicides are used. Mechanical weed-control strategies are shown to be a sufficient substitute for herbicides. Here, federal government resource efficiency payments for reduced tillage without herbicide use go some way towards offsetting any reduction in the contribution margin, provided that neither maize nor triticale is grown as a previous crop. Yield losses due to non-use of herbicides are lower owing to the alternative weed-control strategies pursued by farmers, and stand at between 0.8 and 1.6 dt/ha where glyphosate use is dispensed with, and between 1.6 and 2.7 dt/ha where herbicide use is dispensed with completely, although individual farms would record higher losses. A coherent set of policy measures could reduce risks from pesticide use and strengthen alternative strategies, thereby minimising trade-offs.

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