University of Wisconsin researcher finds herbicide atrazine benefits U.S. corn, sorghum and sugar cane farmers by up to US$3.3B annually due to increased yield, decreased cost and reduced soil erosion

Alison Gallant

Alison Gallant

Dec 13, 2011 – PRNewswire

GREENSBORO, North Carolina , December 13, 2011 (press release) – - Study shows atrazine benefits U.S. corn, sorghum and sugar cane farmers by up to $3.3 billion annually

- University of Wisconsin-Madison economist to present findings at December North Central Weed Science Society Annual Meeting in Milwaukee

According to a new economic study by Paul D. Mitchell, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the herbicide atrazine benefits U.S. corn, sorghum and sugar cane farmers by up to $3.3 billion annually, thanks to increased yield, decreased cost and reduced soil erosion.

Mitchell will present the findings of his paper, "Economic assessment of the benefits of chloro-s-triazine herbicides to U.S. corn, sorghum, and sugar cane producers," Wednesday, Dec.14, 2011, at the 2011 North Central Weed Science Society Annual Meeting in Milwaukee.

The study's key findings include:

Atrazine and the other chloro-s-triazines (simazine and propazine) produce $3 billion to $3.3 billion in value annually.
Atrazine and its sister triazine herbicides are worth an estimated annual yield benefit and net cost savings of $343 million for U.S. sorghum growers, $210 million for U.S. sweet corn growers and up to $120 million for U.S. sugar cane growers.
Atrazine and its sister triazines provide substantial weed control and encourage conservation tillage and no-till farming, which reduce soil erosion and improve water quality.

"There is no good substitute for atrazine. It's an off-patent, affordable and well understood product," said Mitchell. "Atrazine significantly increases yields and is a vital tool for controlling weeds in corn, sorghum and sugar cane."

Though it has been more than 50 years since the herbicide was first introduced, the continuing importance of atrazine, along with simazine and propazine, to U.S. agriculture and global food supplies cannot be overstated. In addition to managing weeds, atrazine and its sister triazines are critical to support conservation tillage practices that improve soil conservation in row crop production.

Mitchell grew up on his family's farm in Iowa and received his doctorate from Iowa State University. Before coming to University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. His current research and outreach programs focus on the farm-level economics of crop production, emphasizing pest management, risk management and specialty crop economics.

Syngenta, the principal registrant for atrazine, provided resources and support for Mitchell's research. His paper is part of a broad assessment by Syngenta to examine the value of atrazine in today's agricultural economy. Other papers include:

"Estimating soil erosion and fuel use changes and their monetary values with AGSIM: A case study for triazine herbicides," also by Mitchell.
"A biological analysis of the use and benefits of chloro-s-triazine herbicides in U.S. corn and sorghum production," David C. Bridges, Ph.D.
"The importance of atrazine in the integrated management of herbicide-resistance weeds," Micheal D. K. Owen, Ph.D.
"Efficacy of best management practices for reducing runoff of chloro-s-triazine herbicides to surface water: a review," Richard S. Fawcett, Ph.D.

About Syngenta

Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 26,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers, we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us, please go to www.syngenta.com.

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