POST - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Herbicide Resistance

Published Friday, August 7, 2015

Increasing resistance to herbicides, coupled with a lack of new types of herbicides, has the potential to reduce crop yields. The UK Government’s commitment to increase yields over the next 25 years will require the development of alternative crop protection methods. This POSTnote outlines the challenges of herbicide resistance and reviews the possible approaches to long-term weed control strategies.

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Key points in this POSTnote include:

  • Agricultural crop yields are reduced when unwanted plants (weeds) compete with crops. Synthetic herbicides are widely used to control weeds.
  • A wide variety of weeds have shown resistance to a range of herbicides, which reduces chemical control options.
  • The EU regulates the use of herbicides. Changes to the regulations in 2009 have reduced control options further.
  • More diverse management strategies that include non-chemical methods, such as spring cropping, may help conserve the effectiveness of herbicides and contribute to reducing resistant weed numbers.

POSTnotes POST-PN-0501

Author: Jonathan Wentworth

Topics: Agriculture and environment, Common Agricultural Policy, Pollution

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.