Atrazine has been around for about 50 years. It's the most studied herbicide in use in America. Yet, it continues to receive scrutiny from environmental groups.
"Fifteen years ago we did a comprehensive study of atrazine and demonstrated the multi-faceted benefits," says David Bridges, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. "However, many things in crop production have changed so in 2009 we began a new study to evaluate atrazine again."
Baldwin, who has worked his entire career studying atrazine, said he wondered if perhaps some of the benefits of atrazine had declined. "I was astounded at the clear results that farmers, consumers and the environment continue to benefit from atrazine." Bridges made his remarks at a press conference sponsored by Syngenta during Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn. Syngenta continues to fund research to study atrazine.
According to Bridges, U.S. farmers produce 6 bushels of corn more per acre using atrazine and 13 bushels per acre more in grain sorghum. "That amounts to 600 million bushels. Without atrazine and the loss of that 600 million bushels means we'd have to plant 875,000 more acres to corn. Where would those acres come from?"
Baldwin noted the environment benefits from atrazine in that it allows farmers to use conservation tillage which reduces soil erosion. He also pointed out that consumers benefit in lower food costs from reduced feed costs for livestock producers. "The loss of atrazine would cost consumers more than $4 billion."
He added the study that concluded last year showed 85,000 jobs could be lost if atrazine were taken off the market. "Six-thousand studies show it is safe. We need atrazine more now than ever. Farmers depend on it and so do consumers and the environment."
Syngenta representatives also talked about their year-old program of switching from a product offering strategy to a crop solution strategy. Syngenta is setting up a number of pilot programs this year based on land, water, corn-on-corn and energy optimization.
They also talked about several new atrazine-based products undergoing regulated field trials. New corn herbicides include Lexar EZ, Lumax EZ and Zemax.
Lexar is a combination of three highly effective active ingredients used for control of annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in field corn, field seed corn, field silage corn, yellow popcorn, sweet corn and grain sorghum.
Lumax provides residual control of annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in field corn, field seed corn, field silage corn, yellow popcorn, sweet corn and grain sorghum.
Zemax provides dual modes of action.
Syngenta will have AgriSure Duracade, their next generation of rootworm control, in regulated trials this year.
Other products in regulated trials this year include Foxfire, a new herbicide for foxtail control in cereal crops, fungicide Sedaxane for cereal grains and the plant growth regulator Palisade.