Spring Roundup

Well it was Spring when I shot these

Traveling around the New Zealand countryside one often sees fields with a very even yellowish hue; these fields look out of place among the varied field patchwork so it is worthwhile slowing down for a closer look.

Somewhere above Beaumont on Highway 8 – what’s that odd colour?

When you stop you see the plants in the field are dying – they have been sprayed with herbicide. Despite the wide range of herbicides available it almost always seems to be glyphosate aka Roundup (the presence of healthy clover is a flag – clover tolerates glyphosate). Because of over-advertising few chemical users know of other herbicides. This is a serious concern as evolution-101 teaches that if you repeatedly do the same thing to a group of living organisms individuals will develop immunity and pass this on to the next generation. We are producing whole suites of chemical resistant weeds.

Glyphosate* is marketed as a safe herbicide that breaks down to harmless elements in the soil. My own herbicide manual (Novachem) states this. But one of the so-called harmless products is AMPA (Aminomethyl Phosphonic Acid). This is now a common component in human urine globally – The evidence of human exposure to glyphosate: a review (link to Springer web page), with AMPA also found in honey – Glyphosate residue concentrations in honey (link to PLOS.org webpage).

So much for ‘breaks down harmlessly with no residual  effects’, on some clay loams glyphosate has a half life of 270 years! Refer to Glyphosate: A Unique Global Herbicide below.

I have been a herbicide contractor, have studied herbicides (and still work with them) but it seems much of what I have learned about glyphosate (especially) was propaganda at best.  I say especially glyphosate as it is the most profitable herbicide by far, and profitability seems to go hand-in-hand with deregulation and interference.

Before and after – pasture on left moving towards a uniform colour as it decays

The range of uses for glyphosate is still expanding – I was shocked when I discovered it is now allowed to dry cereals before harvest – this ensures the harvested material has a consistent dryness for harvest, storage and processing. I discovered this when I saw a wheat crop that was very uniform in colour. When I stopped to  look I could see that it was not paraquat so I asked around and got my answer.

Previously paraquat was used for this and while very toxic if ingested paraquat does not get into the plant. Glyphosate does get in to the whole plant. Of course there are lots of rules and regulations about with-holding periods before harvest but then we have all these studies showing glyphosate in human urine, animal urine, honey, water…

This shot appears saturated and that’s because it was saturated; constant fog and rain and then a little ray of sunshine as I arrived to take its picture. Note the dead plants at the road edge in the foregound – this again is glyphosate.

The above image is located in a high-rainfall catchment where stormwater runoff is a frequent occurrence. Where does the glyphosate go from here?

*Glyphosate is the active ingredient. Roundup is a chemical brand that contains glyphosate, many companies sell products containing glyphosate.


Glyphosate residue concentrations in honey attributed through geospatial analysis to proximity of large-scale agriculture and transfer off-site by bees.
Berg CJ, King HP, Delenstarr G, Kumar R, Rubio F, Glaze T (2018). PLoS ONE 13(7): e0198876.

Glyphosate: a Unique Global Herbicide. J. E. Franz, M. K. Mao and J. A. Sikorski,. American Chemical Society, 1997. [Amazon page]

This is summed up well in
The Synthesis and Reactivity of Novel [Co(L)(PMG)]n+ Complexes. Andrea Cusiel MSc Thesis, University of Canterbury, NZ. 2005.

The evidence of human exposure to glyphosate: a review.
Christina Gillezeau, Maaike van Gerwen, Rachel M. Shaffer, Iemaan Rana, Luoping Zhang, Lianne Sheppard and Emanuela TaioliEmail author
Environmental Health201918:2

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