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Neonicotinoid seed treatments of soybean provide negligible benefits to US farmers

Published on Dec 1, 2019in Scientific Reports4.011
· DOI :10.1038/s41598-019-47442-8
Spyridon Mourtzinis9
Estimated H-index: 9
(UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison),
Christian H. Krupke21
Estimated H-index: 21
(Purdue University)
+ 20 AuthorsShawn P. Conley16
Estimated H-index: 16
(UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Abstract
Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides worldwide and are typically deployed as seed treatments (hereafter NST) in many grain and oilseed crops, including soybeans. However, there is a surprising dearth of information regarding NST effectiveness in increasing soybean seed yield, and most published data suggest weak, or inconsistent yield benefit. The US is the key soybean-producing nation worldwide and this work includes soybean yield data from 194 randomized and replicated field studies conducted specifically to evaluate the effect of NSTs on soybean seed yield at sites within 14 states from 2006 through 2017. Here we show that across the principal soybean-growing region of the country, there are negligible and management-specific yield benefits attributed to NSTs. Across the entire region, the maximum observed yield benefits due to fungicide (FST = fungicide seed treatment) + neonicotinoid use (FST + NST) reached 0.13 Mg/ha. Across the entire region, combinations of management practices affected the effectiveness of FST + NST to increase yield but benefits were minimal ranging between 0.01 to 0.22 Mg/ha. Despite widespread use, this practice appears to have little benefit for most of soybean producers; across the entire region, a partial economic analysis further showed inconsistent evidence of a break-even cost of FST or FST + NST. These results demonstrate that the current widespread prophylactic use of NST in the key soybean-producing areas of the US should be re-evaluated by producers and regulators alike.
  • References (26)
  • Citations (2)
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References26
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#1Spyridon Mourtzinis (UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison)H-Index: 9
#2Juan I. Rattalino Edreira (NU: University of Nebraska–Lincoln)H-Index: 7
Last. Shawn P. Conley (UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison)H-Index: 16
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Abstract Field trials are commonly used to estimate the effects of different factors on crop yields. In the present study, we followed an alternative approach to identify factors that explain field-to-field yield variation, which consisted of farmer survey data, a spatial framework, and multiple statistical procedures. This approach was used to identify management factors with strongest association with on-farm soybean yield variation in the US North Central (NC) region. Field survey data, inclu...
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#1Thomas W. Sappington (ARS: Agricultural Research Service)H-Index: 6
#2Louis S. Hesler (ARS: Agricultural Research Service)H-Index: 9
Last. Sharon K. Papiernik (ARS: Agricultural Research Service)H-Index: 25
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#1Juan I. Rattalino Edreira (NU: University of Nebraska–Lincoln)H-Index: 7
#2Spyridon Mourtzinis (UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison)H-Index: 9
Last. Patricio Grassini (NU: University of Nebraska–Lincoln)H-Index: 24
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Abstract Identification of causes of gaps between yield potential and producer yields has been restricted to small geographic areas. In the present study, we developed a novel approach for identifying causes of yield gaps over large agricultural areas with diversity in climate and soils. This approach was applied to quantify and explain yield gaps in rainfed and irrigated soybean in the North-Central USA (NC USA) region, which accounts for about one third of soybean global production. Survey dat...
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BACKGROUND A two year, multi-state study was conducted to assess the benefits of using soybean seed treated with the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam to manage soybean aphid in the upper Midwestern US and compare this approach with an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that included monitoring soybean aphids and treating with foliar-applied insecticide only when the economic threshold was reached. Concentrations of thiamethoxam in soybean foliage were also quantified throughout the growing seas...
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Summary Neonicotinoid insecticides are routinely used as seed treatments on most grain and oilseed crops in the USA, yet the extent and likelihood of spread of insecticide residues during planting has not previously been quantified. Honey bees, Apis mellifera, are highly mobile and highly sensitive to neonicotinoid residues, presenting an opportunity to estimate non-target exposures to neonicotinoids in mobile insects. We measured neonicotinoid dust drift during maize sowing and used sites of ma...
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Recent efforts to evaluate the contribution of neonicotinoid insecticides to worldwide pollinator declines have focused on honey bees and the chronic levels of exposure experienced when foraging on crops grown from neonicotinoid-treated seeds. However, few studies address non-crop plants as a potential route of pollinator exposure to neonicotinoid and other insecticides. Here we show that pollen collected by honey bee foragers in maize- and soybean-dominated landscapes is contaminated throughout...
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