November 23, 2011

Atrazine provides benefits to farmers and consumers

Research findings shared recently show that U.S. consumers and society benefit from atrazine and other triazine herbicides by up to $4.8 billion per year. The benefits come from increased crop yields, decreased producer costs and reduced soil erosion.

In addition, the findings show that the U.S. economy benefits from atrazine and other triazine herbicides by as much as $22 billion over a five-year period.

You can find the research papers and a video of a news conference at

According to the authors, benefits to farmers and consumers from the triazine herbicides include increased corn, sorghum and sugar cane crop yields, lower weed-control costs, significantly reduced soil erosion and less carbon released into the atmosphere.

Atrazine has played an important role in U.S. agriculture for more than 50 years, serving as the foundation of corn, sorghum and sugar cane weed-control systems, according to Dr. David C. Bridges, who announced the findings.

“It’s hard to overestimate the importance of atrazine and the triazine herbicides to U.S. agriculture and global food supplies. They benefit food production, the environment and the economy – and that means jobs,” Bridges said. “Some say there are ready replacements. In fact, there is no substitute for atrazine.”

The studies’ key findings include:
  • Over five years, the triazines provide between an $18 billion and $22 billion benefit to the U.S. economy.
  • Atrazine increases U.S. corn output by 600 million bushels per year.
  • The triazines prevent up to 85 million metric tons of soil erosion per year – enough to fill more than 3 million dump trucks.
  • Atrazine and the other triazine herbicides help reduce emissions by up to 280,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
  • Growers are using atrazine to control new herbicide-resistant weeds.

The findings show atrazine increases U.S. corn production by about 7 additional bushels per acre, while U.S. sorghum farmers benefit by more than 13 additional bushels per acre. These benefits resonate throughout the entire supply chain, from farmers and food processors to retailers and consumers, Bridges said.

The studies detail the triazine herbicides’ environmental protection benefits. Triazines enable growers to use conservation tillage and other best-management practices, which contribute to a reduction in soil erosion in corn and sorghum.

USDA reports that U.S. cropland soil erosion declined by more than 40 percent between 1982 and 2007. Conservation tillage and related practices have contributed to this result. The triazine herbicides play an important role in such programs.

In addition, conservation tillage and no-till farming reduce agricultural diesel fuel use by more than 18 million gallons per year and annual carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 180,000 metric tons.

For more posts on atrazine, click here.

If you have questions about atrazine safety, check out Atrazine: What is the safety limit?.

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