GREENSBORO, N.C. April 19, 2012 Earth Day
Richard Fawcett Iowa State University
No-till allows farmers to grow crops year after year without disturbing the soil, thus increasing the soil’s amount of organic matter and decreasing erosion, according to a study by Fawcett.
"While plowing has benefits, it leaves soil loosened and susceptible to significant erosion, ultimately polluting air with fuel burned in the plow equipment and contaminating water with sediment run-off," said Fawcett. "No-till fields also provide a healthier habitat for wildlife."
But this farming technique depends on the ability to control weeds, demonstrating the importance of the 50-year-old herbicide atrazine.
Bridges, Mitchell and Fawcett are among a group of five academic researchers who recently studied the benefits of atrazine. Key findings include:
- Atrazine enables growers to use conservation tillage and other best-management practices, which contribute to a reduction in soil erosion in corn and sorghum.
- Atrazine and its sister triazine herbicides prevent up to 85 million metric tons of soil erosion per year – enough to fill more than 3 million dump trucks.
- 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.
Syngenta, the principal registrant for atrazine, provided resources and support for the research. The papers are part of a broad assessment by Syngenta to examine the value of atrazine in today’s agricultural economy. The papers include:
- A biological analysis of the use and benefits of chloro-s-triazine herbicides in U.S. corn and sorghum production David C. Bridges
- Estimating soil erosion and fuel use changes and their monetary values with AGSIM: A case study for triazine herbicides Paul D. Mitchell
- Economic assessment of the benefits of chloro-s-triazine herbicides to U.S. corn, sorghum, and sugar cane producers Paul D. Mitchell
- The importance of atrazine in the integrated management of herbicide-resistance weeds Micheal D. K. Owen
- Efficacy of best management practices for reducing runoff of chloro-s-triazine herbicides to surface water: a review Richard S. Fawcett
- New studies show atrazine supports 38,000 to 85,000 U.S. jobs Don L. Coursey
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