news, features, articles and disease information for the crop industry

Is US Pesticide Use Trending Up or Down? - 03 June 2014

You are receiving this email as you are a subscriber of
The home of premium international crop news and information.
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.
Monday 3rd June 2014.
Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor



Is US Pesticide Use Trending Up or Down? 

Greetings from beautiful, sunny England! I’m visiting our sister company FAI (Food Animal Initiative) and am in Wytham, which is very close to Oxford University.

A USDA study released in May says that pesticide use in US agriculture increased from the 1960s to 1980s, but has trended downward into 2008.

Pesticide use on the 21 crops analyzed in this report rose rapidly from 196 million pounds of active ingredient in 1960 to 632 million pounds in 1981, largely because of the increased share of planted acres treated with herbicides to control weeds.

Total planted acreage increased from the early 1960s to early 1980s, which further increased herbicide use. Most acres planted with major crops were already being treated with herbicides by 1980, so total pesticide use has since trended slightly downward driven by other factors, to 516 million pounds in 2008.

  • Insecticides accounted for 58% of pounds applied in 1960, but only 6% in 2008.
  • On the other hand, herbicides accounted for 18% of the pounds applied in 1960 but 76% by 2008.
  • Fungicides’ share of pesticide use has remained at 7% or less since 1971, down from 11-13% in the early 1960s.

Approximately 5-10% of corn, wheat, and cotton acres were treated with herbicides in 1952. By 1980, herbicide use had reached 90 to 99% of US corn, cotton and soybean planted acres. Notably, the four most heavily used active ingredients in 2008 (glyphosate, atrazine, acetochlor and metolachlor) were all herbicides.

In 2008, corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, and potatoes accounted for about 80% of the pesticide quantity applied to the 21 crops examined.

  • Corn has been the top pesticide-using crop in the United States since 1972 and received about 39% of the pesticides in 2008. The increase in corn acreage led to an increase in pesticide use.
  • Soybean production had the next largest share in 2008 (22%), almost all of which were herbicides.
  • Potatoes’ share rose significantly in the 1990s and reached about 10% by 2008. Other pesticides, including soil fumigants and desiccants, constituted a large portion of the pesticides applied to potatoes in 2008.
  • Cotton accounted for just over 7% of the pesticides, mostly insecticides, in 2008, a major reduction from its 40% share in the early 1960s. The quantity applied to cotton trended downward since 1972 due to the replacement of DDT and other older insecticides with more effective products, eradication of the boll weevil, and adoption of Bt cotton.
  • Wheat accounted for less than 5% of the pesticides, mostly herbicides, in 2008.

Click here to read the entire study

The study did say that it stopped at 2008 as it was the most recent year for which they had enough complete data. But I'm curious how 2009 to present data would fare given the growing weed resistance issues in the US.

Find me on Twitter @SarahMikesell

Have a great week!


Featured Book of the Week

Yields of Farmed Species: Constraints and Opportunities in the 21st Century Yields of Farmed Species: Constraints and Opportunities in the 21st Century
To what extent will pests, pathogens, competing demands for resources, or scruples about farming processes, curtail our ability to innovate in the production of food? Solutions to these and other issues are debated in this volume.
Order Now Online

This Week's Articles and Analysis

Bee Biodiversity Boosts Crop Yields
Research from North Carolina State University shows that blueberries produce more seeds and larger berries if they are visited by more diverse bee species, allowing farmers to harvest significantly more pounds of fruit per acre.

US Corn Yields Increasingly Vulnerable to Hot, Dry Weather
Corn yields in the central United States have become more sensitive to drought conditions in the past two decades, according to Stanford research.

Time to Scout for Palmer Amaranth
Planting progress may have been slowed by the recent precipitation, but weed emergence continues despite wet field conditions.

Is History to Blame for Slow Crop Taming?
It's been about 10,000 years since our ancestors began farming, but crop domestication has taken much longer than expected – a delay caused less by genetics and more by culture and history, according to a new study co-authored by University of Guelph researchers.

Market Reports

USDA Peanut Prices - 30 May 2014
USDA Agricultural Prices - 30 May 2014
USDA Crop Progress - 27 May 2014

Global Crop Industry News


Bolivia Recognizes Farmers as Custodians of Biodiversity


Global Significance for Tasmanian Pasture Experiment
Australian Cereal Researcher Wins Award, Targets Wheat, Barley Development

   United States

EWG Ethanol Study Seriously Flawed
Global Malnutrition Depends on Productivity, Climate Change
Wyckoff's Closing Grains: Corn Futures Closed Down Thursday
Distance Learning Course on Feed Production Now Available
Rain, Humidity Amplify Importance of Head Scab Management
Planted Acres - Did the Market Get It Right?
Wyckoff's Closing Grains: Corn Lower; Soy Higher
Wyckoff's Weekly Grains Outlook: Planting Close to Complete
Soybean Injury from Soil-applied Herbicides Increasing Across Acres
Wyckoff's Closing Grains: Corn Futures Closed Down Tuesday
Cool, Wet Weather Only Helps Cutworms Thrive
Debate on GMO Stirs Strong Feelings in NYC

   Viet Nam

Farmers Disadvantaged by Slow Implementation of Policy


Philippines Invests P81.2M into Agriculture Projects
Philippines Agriculture Sees Growth Despite Typhoon Yolanda

   European Union

International Workshop Explores Risks of Emerging GM Technique
Early-Flowering Crops May Increase Bee Numbers for Late-Flowering Crops
Commission Clears Acquisition by DLG, Lantmännen of Hage Polska


Mexico's Maize Crop Forecast to Remain Relatively Unchanged


Jim Wyckoff's Morning Report: Today an Extra Important Day for Markets


Improved Prospects for 2014 Brazillian Maize Crop
Brazil’s Grain Storage Builds On-Farm


Nigeria Cropping Season Started on time in the South

   United Kingdom

Straw from Oilseed as a New Source of Biofuels
New Device to Find Carcinogenic Food Fungus Faster
New Manure App to Minimise Losses, Boost Profit
Public-Private Research Supports Sustainable Agricultural Systems


R Mohan Singh Appointed India’s Agri Minister
Indian Sugar Output Down by 3.2 Per Cent to mid-May 2014
Kaveri Seeds Sign MoU with Haryana Varsity
India’s Cotton Yarn Exports to Cross $4.7 billion in 2013-14


Canola Growers File Level of Service Complaint with Canadian Transportation Agency


Soy Prices Driven by Chinese Poultry Industry?


FAO Providing Agriculture, Fishing Kits to Help Sudan's Famine Risk


TheCropSite - Ag Digital
Wyffels Hybrids - More Than A Number

The Pig, Poultry, Beef, Fish, Dairy, Meat, Cattle, Crop & Bioenergy Sites From 5M Publishing From 5M Publishing

unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences

Our Sponsors