GREENSBORO, N.C. — According to a new study by Paul D. Mitchell, ag economist 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.
The Mitchell 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’s 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.