At Mid-Century, German Crop Production Turned to Herbicides

In the 1950s and 1960s, as Germany industrialized, millions of workers moved from rural to urban areas and to factory jobs. When people left the farms, weed control technology was desperately needed to replace the major task of hand weeding crop fields. The introduction of herbicides saved German agriculture.

“Weeds cause drastic yield losses in food production, on average 25% in developing countries and 5% in developed countries, despite the control measures practiced. … Weed control is one of the major labour-consuming operations in traditional crop production, amounting from <30 up to about 70% of the total labour input.”

“In Germany, industry needed an increasing number of employees around 1960 and rural people left their fields. When this occurred there was no longer the question about traditional weed control with high labour input, but growing the crop with chemical weed control or no crop at all.”

Author: W. Koch
Affiliation: University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
Title: Impact of weeds on developing countries.
Publication: Proceedings of the First International Weed Control Congress. 1992. Melbourne, Australia.

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