Increasing numbers of farmers in Canada are adoping herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybeans and environmentally friendly no-till practices.

A study by the George Morris Centre, surveying 352 Ontario soybean growers on their cropping practices, found that 30% of Ontario's soybean acreage was planted to HT seed in 2001. The report says that the new technology makes "good economic and environmental sense," because producers report making 1.7 fewer field passes than they did three years ago.

Put into the context of the 2002 soybean crop, farmers continue to vote with their seeders, says the report. Adoption rates have increased again from 30% in 2001 to an estimated 40-45% of 2002 soybean acreage.

HT seed is part of a major shift in growing soybeans. The seed is genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. This means that farmers can spray glyphosate over an emerging soybean crop to kill weeds without damaging the crop. The genetically modified seed can be sown with no-till equipment that makes a small slice in the soil and drops seed into crop residue from the previous year. This system makes moldboard ploughing unnecessary, a process that makes soil more vulnerable to erosion and requires more fuel use.

For further information, contact the George Morris Centre.