The First Modern Herbicide Is Introduced (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: The herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) was developed to kill broad-leafed plants but not grass and related grain crops, making it an important weed killer.
Summary of Event
Humans have been at war with weeds since humankind ceased living as hunter-gatherers and became agriculturalists thousands of years ago. Weeds may be defined as plants growing in places where humans do not want them to be. This may be in the middle of an ornamental flower garden or in farm fields with food crops. The first case is an annoyance to individuals; the second may bring about crop failure and lower the chances of human survival, for weeds not only decrease crop yields but also lower crop quality.
Weed killing in agriculture involved laborious tilling by hand until the development of herbicides, substances that kill weeds. As any home gardener knows, tilling is laborious, expensive, and time consuming. Before 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) became widely used in the 1940’s, it was estimated that weeds diminished agricultural revenues of the United States by more than $3 billion per year. At that time, weed removal by tillage made up 20 to 35 percent of the entire cost of most successful agricultural endeavors.
At the time 2,4-D was introduced, herbicides such as sulfuric acid, sodium chloride, sodium chlorate, and arsenic compounds had been used for about fifty years. The...
(The entire section is 1555 words.)
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