Authored by: Malcolm Devine

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Chemical herbicides have had a tremendous impact on cropping practices, particularly in the developed world, by reducing the need for hand labor in weed control. The first chemicals used on a large scale for weed control in agriculture were inorganic compounds such as salt (sodium chloride), sulfuric acid, and arsenicals. In the 1920s, crude organic compounds (e.g., diesel oils) were first used. A major breakthrough came in the 1940s, with the development of selective herbicides (2,4-D and MCPA) for weed control in cereal crops. This ushered in the era of modern crop protection, using chemicals to provide effective weed control in a diverse range of crops.

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