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Weed control in sugar beet using genetically modified herbicide-tolerant varieties – A review of the economics for cultivation in Europe

  • Autor/in: Märländer, B.
  • Jahr: 2005
  • Zeitschrift: J. Agronomy & Crop Science 191
  • Seite/n: 64-74
  • Stichworte: Beta vulgaris - conventional weed control - glufosinate – glyphosate - herbicide-tolerant sugar beet - sustainable development


Genetically modified sugar beet varieties have been developed to be tolerant to glyphosate and glufosinate. To date, research regarding other active ingredients did not result in additional herbicide-tolerant varieties and the approval of glufosinate- tolerant varieties for market access has been withdrawn by the applicant. Therefore, only glyphosate tolerant varieties could be introduced for cultivation in the short run. Results concerning efficacy and cost of weed control using these varieties and the complementary herbicides were extensively reported in various contributions, mostly on a national level. Based on these results, the economics of weed control for sugar beet production in Europe were reviewed and aspects of integrated control, risk management, and issues of sustainable development of crop production are discussed. Efficient weed control is possible in almost any field situation with glyphosate at about 2 kg a.i. ha-1, compared with conventional herbicides at 6 kg ha-1 or higher, depending on weed infestation level. Cost savings for weed control with glyphosate would amount to an average of €150 ha-1, without any great deviation across different sites and states. A technology fee of about €40 ha-1 is assumed. The high selectivity of glyphosate may result in a 1 to 3 % higher yield performance of the crop. All assumptions being considered, total cost savings of €180 x 106 year-1 were calculated for the area of 1,7 x 106 ha in the main EU sugar beet-growing countries. A risk management by implementing a monitoring program is compulsary, and systems of identity preservation or quality assurance are needed in order to enable the production of conventional and genetically modified sugar beet in coexistence. To date, costs are unknown for these measures. Because of the favourable ecotoxicological behaviour of glyphosate and the possibility of threshold-based weed control, this new technology could provide an excellent option towards sustainable development of the crop. However, political reasons and the lack of acceptance of genetically modified varieties by the consumer have prevented the market entry of GMHT sugar beet to date, so that conventional herbicides will continuously be used in the future.
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