Just Imagine: Glyphosate use is banned in North America

A fictional look at life without glyphosate in the year 2028.

Due to pressure from consumers and decisions by the courts, glyphosate use has been banned in Canada and the U.S.

Only three years removed from the complete ban of glyphosate, North American farmers are still dealing with the changes to their farming practices.

The Canadian government passed Bill C-8, which banned what was once the world’s most commonly used herbicide in the fall of 2025, as Liberal Prime Minister Kenna McCatherine’s minority government received support from the NDP and Green Party.

In the U.S., farmers are also adjusting to federal lawmakers completing the phase out of glyphosate in 2025, with Mitchell Polland, head of the EPA, noting “farmers have never had more control over their profitability now that they are not being forced by Bayer to purchase glyphosate-resistant seeds.”

The policy changes have breathed new life into companies that manufacture tillage equipment, as farmers are re-introducing themselves to shovel and spike implements.

A tillage manufacturer’s recent social media campaign on Twitter, which encouraged farmers to post pictures of their old high clearance sprayers using the hashtag #sellthesprayer, was a real success, gathering over two million virtual impressions.

When asked about the dramatic increase of wind erosion due to a return to tillage, Polland shook it off by saying that “the prior era of mono-cropping is really to blame since farmers lost the art of multi-cropping.”

Not all equipment manufacturers have given up on spraying technology though. Google’s acquisition of Bosch Robotics has advanced the company’s position in the ag precision software and hardware space. Since farmers no longer have the ability to broadly control weeds before seeding or in-crop, robots and drones employing highly accurate lasers and water jets are becoming more main stream. In some cases, these autonomous machines are still deploying traditional herbicides, but targeted at specific plants.

In the Palliser’s Triangle of Western Canada, wind erosion has wreaked havoc with growers looking to manage weeds with tillage. Wheat Growers of Canada president Darrell Francisco notes “commodity prices just don’t justify robots for all farms in Canada, so tillage for weed control is the only feasible option.”

As predicted by soil health experts going back to the 1970s, the result of the glyphosate ban has already been severe losses of topsoil, reduced soil health, and loss of sequestered carbon, which McCatherine pledged farmers across Canada would have received carbon credits for starting in 2030.

Canola and pulse crop acres were down again this spring, with canola dropping below 15 million acres for the first time since 2006. Farmers are instead choosing to grow¬†crops with quick growth and a competitive plant-snuffing canopy, with some turning back to traditional crops like wheat to keep things simple. Sales of seeding equipment with narrower row spacing have also increased, as farmers look to close the crop canopy faster, but in dry conditions, as we’re seeing in 2028, the plant populations must also be pulled back.

The percentage of acres dedicated to organic production has plateaued, despite federal initiatives aimed at incentivizing organic practices, as margins for organically-grown crops remain at all-time lows. The Canadian Wholesome Food Council, for several years, has attributed the diminished returns for organic farmers to the trend of increasing low-price food imports from Russia and Mexico.

Always innovative, farmers are trying to adapt to losing access to a very valuable tool for weed control, but it’s proving to be a challenge, both economically and environmentally.

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