Herbicide Use in Finland Promoted by the Government in the 1960s

Herbicide Spraying in Finland 1960

Herbicide Spraying in Finland 1960s

Farmers in Finland were slow in adopting herbicide use in the 1950s with only 12% of the acreage treated and fields were overrun with weeds. The Finnish government launched a national weed control program in the 1960s to promote the use of herbicides and herbicide use increased steadily. Today, more than 95% of cereal crop acres in Finland are treated with herbicides annually.

“In Finland, weeds are of relatively great significance because of the open ditch drainage systems in the fields. After the second world war the problem of weeds assumed an even greater importance owing to the mechanization of plant production. In Finland the use of herbicides was not, however, very prevalent in the 1950’s as in most other agricultural countries.

In view of the above facts a national weed campaign was launched in collaboration with agricultural organizations in 1962. The plan of campaign covered a period of three years. The promotion of the chemical control in cereal crops was the foremost object of the first year. Despite adverse climatic conditions the work proved most successful and the field acreage sprayed with herbicides was doubled, covering finally some 300,000 hectares, corresponding to 28% of the total cereal acreage.”

Author: Mukula, J.
Affiliation: Department of Plant Husbandry, Tikkurila, Finland.
Title: National weed campaign of 1962.
Source: Maatal ja Koetoum. 1963. 17:192-200.

Climate Change Warms Up Finland – Increased Need for Fungicides Results

Finland is the northernmost country in the world with successful agriculture. Long harsh winters and low temperatures limit effective production of most crops. However, the cold climate also limits the proliferation of fungal pests. Now that the climate of Finland is heating up, the need for fungicides has grown.

“On average, since the 1960s there has been a trend of the growing season starting 2.1 days earlier per decade in the east and north of Finland, and 2.8 days earlier per decade in the west, with the pace of development accelerating since the 1980s.”

“With a longer growing season plant pathogens will thrive. For example, studies based on simulation models indicate that an increase of 1°C in mean temperature in southern Finland extends the period when potato late blight control (Phytophthora infestans) is necessary by 10-20 days, which means 1-2 more fungicide applications per season. The need for plant protection measures for potato late blight control has already increased following climate change, and the epidemiology of the pathogen has also changed substantially.”

Authors: K. Hakala, et al.
Affiliation: MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Plant Production Research, Jokioinen, Finland
Title: Pests and diseases in a changing climate: a major challenge for Finnish crop production.
Publication: Agriculture and Food Science. 2011. 20:3-14.