Agricultural economists at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin published new research showing the value that neonicotinoid seed treatments create for farmers. Dr. Terrance Hurley at the University of Minnesota and Dr. Paul Mitchell at the University of Wisconsin published their work in the leading journal, Pest Management Science.
Based on their analysis of survey data, neonicotinoid seed treatments are popular among U.S. soybean growers, adding an average value of $11.35 per acre and $389 million to U.S. soybean growers in 2013.
About half of the surveyed farmers used neonicotinoid treatments, but of those using them, 28 percent used them only on a portion of their soybean acres. The significant portion of partial adopters indicates that many farmers are being selective in their use. Treatments typically cost $7-$8 per acre and farmers are under tremendous pressure to not waste money on unneeded inputs. The study also found that human and environmental safety is a major concern to soybean growers when making insect management decisions.
Two-thirds ranked family and worker safety as very important, more than protecting yield, having consistent insect control and cost. Protecting water quality, public safety, and beneficial insects and wildlife were also important to growers.
Overall, the study reveals that neonicotinoids create significant value for soybean growers and that human and environmental safety is a major concern to farmers when making insect mange decisions. Proven farmer practices should be considered in current policy debates on the use of neonicotinoids.