loss of leaves from a tree or other plant by biological. chemical or mechanical means (as opposed to natural shedding).

defoliation (Wikipedia)
Defoliants are used as an aid in the harvesting of certain crops such as cotton.
2,4-D, one of the first chemical herbicides used as a defoliant.
U.S. Army Huey helicopter spraying Agent Orange over agricultural land during the Vietnam War.

A defoliant is any herbicidal chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause their leaves to fall off. Defoliants are widely used for the selective removal of weeds in managing croplands and lawns. Worldwide use of defoliants, along with the development of other herbicides and pesticides, allowed for the Green Revolution, an increase in agricultural production in mid-20th century. Defoliants have also been used in warfare as a means to deprive an enemy of food crops and/or hiding cover, most notably by the United States in the Vietnam War.

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