Findings from three studies on atrazine’s economic and environmental benefits will be among the presentations at the 2012 Weed Science Society Annual Meeting Feb. 6 through 9 in Waikoloa, Hawaii. The studies show the commonly used atrazine herbicide not only boosts crop yields and the U.S. economy, it is essential to conservation, according to Syngenta. 

In his paper, “A biological analysis of the use and benefits of chloro-s-triazine herbicides in U.S. corn and sorghum production,” David C. Bridges, Ph.D., agronomist and president, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Ga., found:

  • Atrazine increases U.S. corn output by 600 million bushels per year and sorghum yield by more than 13 bushels per acre.
  • Atrazine benefits field corn farmers up to $2.9 billion annually.
  • Atrazine provides irreplaceable benefits to farmers of field corn, sweet corn and grain sorghum, including application flexibility, crop tolerance, weed control and tillage compatibility.

“There is no good substitute for atrazine,” said Bridges. “It’s an off-patent, affordable and well-understood product. This trusted herbicide is a vital tool for controlling weeds in corn, sorghum and sugar cane, and significantly increases yields.”

Atrazine is a component in more than 60 agricultural products used by U.S. farmers.

Two other papers — “Economic assessment of the benefits of chloro-s-triazine herbicides to U.S. corn, sorghum, and sugar cane producers” and “Estimating soil erosion and fuel use changes and their monetary values with AGSIM: A case study for triazine herbicides” — by economist Paul D. Mitchell, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found:

  • Atrazine and chloro-s-triazines simazine and propazine benefit U.S. corn, sorghum and sugar cane farmers up to $3.3 billion in value annually.
  • Atrazine benefits U.S. consumers by up to $4.8 billion annually, due to increased yield as well as decreased producer costs and reduced soil erosion.
  • Atrazine and its sister triazines encourage conservation tillage and no-till farming, which reduce soil erosion, reduce fuel use and improve water quality.
  • The triazines prevent up to 85 million metric tons of soil erosion per year – enough to fill more than 3 million dump trucks.
  • Atrazine and its sister triazines help reduce emissions by up to 280,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

“Many people don't realize that herbicides are a critical instrument for protecting wildlife, saving habitat and reducing soil erosion to help keep our waters clean,” said Mitchell. “Thanks to atrazine and its sister triazines, farmers are able to grow more with less.”

Bridges’ and Mitchell’s papers are part of a broad assessment by Syngenta, the principal registrant, to examine the value of atrazine in today’s agricultural economy.