Efficacy and fate of glyphosate on Swedish railway embankments.

Research paper by Lennart L Torstensson, Elisabet E Börjesson, John J Stenström

Indexed on: 26 Jul '05Published on: 26 Jul '05Published in: Pest Management Science


The herbicide glyphosate, N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine, as Spectra (240 g AI litre(-1) SL; Monsanto Europe AB), RoundUp (360 g AI litre(-1) SL; Monsanto) and RoundUp Bio (360 g AI litre(-1) SL; Monsanto), have been used for weed control on Swedish railway embankments since 1986. This article summarizes results from studies of the weed effect and behaviour of glyphosate for the period 1984-2003. Studies on a railway embankment with a range of application rates showed excellent weed control at 5 litre ha(-1) of RoundUp Bio. The appearance of glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA [(aminomethyl)phosphonic acid] in the embankment, eg mobility and persistence, was also studied. Mobility was low in most cases, the main proportion of both glyphosate and AMPA being found in the upper 30-cm layer although minor amounts penetrated to lower depths. The 50% disappearance time of glyphosate was generally <5 months in railway embankments but cases with longer persistence were found. Transport to the groundwater was observed for glyphosate and AMPA in groundwater pipes along tracks. Downward transport appears to be dependent on the application rate, which should not exceed 3 litre ha(-1) of RoundUp Bio to avoid groundwater contamination. A lower rate of glyphosate mixed with a low rate of another herbicide may achieve acceptable weed control and be environmentally safer.