“Without glyphosate our soils were crumbling and were much less fertile”

Italian wheat farmer Gianpietro Gattari explains how glyphosate helps him use zero tillage techniques to rotate his crops and maintain the health of his farm's soil

The opinions expressed here are those of Mr Gattari only

“My name is Gianpietro Gattari and I am a third-generation farmer from the Macerata province in the Italian region of Marche. I live and work with my wife and two daughters on our farm and agritourism site near the town of Tolentino.

I began farming with my father Renato and my grandfather Pietro, and sharing their company through the years as they worked and cared for the land meant their passion for cultivation was passed to me.

However, while I continued the passions, traditions and techniques that I learned through my father and grandfather, we have also kept improving and adding to these throughout the years. I have brought a great many changes during my time here as I wanted to be more involved in farming, trying new techniques and dealing with increasing concerns about pollution, erosion and everything else that could damage our environment.

“… We know we only have the world on loan from our children and would see no reason to leave it spoiled or polluted in anyway.” Gianpietro Gattari

On our farm we have around 120 hectares that we use for wheat, along with sunflowers, alfalfa, field beans and rapeseed. Being able to deal with weeds is important for us as infestations can impact the quality and yield of our crops.

Previously, when I farmed with my dad and grandfather, we managed weeds by turning over the soil using a plough and other conventional tools that caused a great waste of fuel and high levels of pollution. This was because the soil needed to be ploughed many times over during a single year. To deal with this problem we altered our practices, going from the plough to minimum processing and zero tilling techniques.

“One of the key elements of our zero tillage technique is glyphosate as this allows us to effectively control weeds without resorting to the plough.” Gianpietro Gattari

Zero tillage brings particular advantages due to the natural terrain on which we farm. Macerata is a very hilly region and repeat ploughing of our soils was negatively affecting our land. Through erosion and rain we noticed our soils would begin crumble, that the PH level was inadequate, and that the soil was not fertile enough for an efficient sowing of crops. Had this continued it would have been very damaging for our farm’s production. However, when we began using zero tillage techniques we were able to return our soil to good health.

 

 

These techniques can also prevent more serious problems such as landslides or large-scale erosion that can occur during heavy rainstorms and can cause a lot of damage when falling on our hillsides.

One of the key elements of our zero tillage technique is glyphosate as this allows us to effectively control weeds without resorting to the plough. If I had to give up the use of glyphosate today I would struggle to know what to do as we have perfected our technique so much throughout the years. Now by using crop rotation we only plough each field once every three years and we also use minimum processing for sowing our rapeseed and sunflowers, while we use a direct sowing for wheat.

The way we use glyphosate also means it does not affect either the soil or the food we grow since it is applied during the pre-sowing process and does not touch the actual crops. On our wheat fields we use the zero tillage technique and apply glyphosate in pre-sowing. Those fields were previously used for cultivating sunflowers and the soil has not been processed at all. We went directly from the harvesting of sunflowers to the use of glyphosate and the sowing of the wheat.

Reducing ploughing and the use of conventional tools brings fuel savings in terms of pollution and costs, as well as lowering the amount of labour required to manage our fields. In my opinion glyphosate is today indispensable for a farmer. It is a tool they have to keep using, and which they already use in the most optimal and environmentally friendly way.

The public needs to listen to farmers on the use of glyphosate because we know better than anyone how to manage our farms well and cultivate healthy crops. We also know how best to safeguard our own land and hills, and, above all, we know we only have the world on loan from our children and would see no reason to leave it spoiled or polluted in anyway.

In other words, farmers are the ones who want to protect the countryside, who want to ensure there is healthy soil, who want to do their job well and produce food for people to eat.”