More investment needs to be made into finding alternatives to the herbicide glyphosate, according to Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning.

Taking questions from the floor at the Oxford Farming Conference, the Wiltshire organic farmer was asked about the Soil Association’s stance on glyphosate licencing and the future of minimum tillage practices.

I might be quite distraught that we can’t have the odd squirt of glyphosate

“The Soil Association has always campaigned against the use of glyphosate in public places and pre-harvest, so that has been our primary focus,” Browning responded.

“Like a lot of people, I might be quite distraught that we can’t have the odd squirt of glyphosate. At the same time, I think the evidence is stacking up and we are likely to lose it,” she added.

The Soil Association is a certification body for organic farmers. It is also a registered charity that campaigns for ecological farming practices.


“One of things that we have been doing is looking into how you move into no-till systems or min-till systems without the use of glyphosate.

“There are solutions coming through that I think will really help us. We need a lot more investment in how we use engineering solutions to do that well,” Browning said.

The discussion followed comments about the future of conventional tillage systems and issues surrounding soil health and the release of carbon into the atmosphere after ploughing.

“I’m not saying ploughing is a complete disaster all the time, the occasional ploughing is okay, but let’s find solutions that don’t require glyphosate either,” Browning said.

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