EPA concludes neonicotinoid seed treatments of negligible benefit to soybean production

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:01 -- NSRL

URBANA, Ill. - On Oct. 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report on the benefits of neonicotinoid insecticidal seed treatments to soybean production in the United States. Neonicotinoid insecticidal seed treatments include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin. According to University of Illinois crop sciences professor Mike Gray, the analysis concentrated only on the potential benefits of imidacloprid and thiamethoxam used as seed treatments.

The Current State of Global Food Security

Mon, 02/17/2014 - 16:43 -- admin
The struggle for food security around the world has been a long one. And what is there to show for it? "The latest FAO estimates indicate that the trend in global hunger reduction continues. About 805 million people were estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14, down by more than 100 million over the last decade and by 209 million since 1990–92. However, about one in every nine people in the world still has insufficient food for an active and healthy life. The vast majority of these undernourished people live in developing

NSRL’s recipe for Italian Stovetop Casserole debuts at the University of Illinois Community and Campus Day of Service

Tue, 09/03/2013 - 14:56 -- admin

50 million Americans don’t have enough food according to the USDA. Almost 2 million of the food insecure Americans live in Illinois and over 77,000 people who don’t have enough to eat live in East Central Illinois. On April 20, 2013, the University of Illinois and community volunteers will be joining forces to pack 146,000 meals of Italian Stovetop Casserole, a recipe developed at NSRL.

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Please join us  May 30 to June 5, 2015 for this exciting course.

Hosted by the International Soybean Program (INTSOY) at the National Soybean Research Lab, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This intensive, five-day course is designed for technical, plant management, marketing, quality control, and research personnel interested in promoting private sector expansion of soybean foods in the international market. Participants will receive training in soybean processing and utilization at the INTSOY facilities and lectures will be held in the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois.

URBANA, Ill. - On Oct. 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report on the benefits of neonicotinoid insecticidal seed treatments to soybean production in the United States. Neonicotinoid insecticidal seed treatments include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin. According to University of Illinois crop sciences professor Mike Gray, the analysis concentrated only on the potential benefits of imidacloprid and thiamethoxam used as seed treatments.

“Although clothianidin is registered for use as a soybean seed treatment, the authors of the report considered its use ‘minor’ as compared with the other two neonicotinoids,” Gray said.

Gray also pointed out other key points from the report.

“On average, from 2008-2012, neonicotinoid-treated seeds were applied on 30 percent of soybean acres (with some individual years approaching 40 percent of soybean acres).” page 3
Within the Corn Belt (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio, 2008-2012) 5,413,000 and 5,368,000 acres of soybeans were planted with imidacloprid and thiamethoxam seed treatments, respectively. This translates into 433,600 and 151,700 pounds of imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, respectively, used during those years (2008-2012). page 4
Across the United States from 2008-2012, 1,151,000 pounds of imidacloprid and thiamethoxam were used as seed treatments on soybeans. page 4
For this analysis, early-season insects were the primary focus and included many familiar Corn Belt pests such as soybean aphids, bean leaf beetles, cutworms, thrips, and some soil insects (for example, wireworms, seedcorn maggots). page 5
“This analysis provides evidence that U.S. soybean growers derive limited to no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments in most instances. Published data indicate that most usage of neonicotinoid seed treatments does not protect soybean yield any better than doing no pest control.” page 13
“In cases where pest pressure does necessitate some type of insect control, efficacious alternatives are available for the key foliar pests of soybeans at a comparable cost per acre.” page 13
“The authors of this EPA report acknowledge that the use of neonicotinoids within soybeans is largely prophylactic — an insurance based form of pest management,” Gray said. “In their analysis, they estimate that insecticidal seed treatments cost on average approximately $7.50 per acre. They also point out that foliar insecticides, labeled for use in soybeans, generally cost less than $7 per acre (11 insecticides identified).”

Gray added that the authors of this EPA report make the following assumptions:

“Nearly all soybean growers are already making foliar pesticide applications of some sort and thus have access to the necessary equipment for application. In addition, growers would not have to make an additional field pass as foliar alternative insecticides that target the same pest spectrum as neonicotinoid seed treatments are applied at the same time as a number of current foliar sprays (including herbicides, fungicides, miticides, etc.) and can be tank mixed. No yield gains are expected from neonicotinoid seed treatments, which means the only potential economic impact would be the cost of an insecticide used as a foliar spray.” page 10
“Some of these assumptions can be challenged, especially on very large farms across the Corn Belt in which producers rely upon aerial applications of pesticides rather than making their own ground-based treatments,” Gray said. “Additionally, the use of fungicides, although increasingly common in recent years, is not routine within every midwestern soybean field. Therefore, application of an insecticide and fungicide tank mix should not be considered a given on most soybean fields, nor should that of a herbicide and insecticide combination. The optimum time to apply a herbicide for weed control can vary considerably from that to deter insect damage.”

Gray explained that the information in this report raises considerable doubt regarding the economic benefits of these insecticidal seed treatments to soybean producers. “The use of insecticidal seed treatments within the soybean production system clearly functions as an insurance-based form of pest management,” he said. “For large commercial farms across the Midwest landscape, many producers typically do not scout soybean fields and utilize economic thresholds to make management decisions for insect pests.”

Over the years, Gray said producers could save on insecticide costs within many midwestern soybean fields by only treating when economic levels of a given insect pest surface. Yet he added that the long-term trend regarding insect management within large-scale commercial corn and soybean production systems reveals an increasing reliance on product-based inputs (insecticidal seed treatments, Bt hybrids) versus labor and management costs (scouting and use of economic thresholds).

“It will be interesting to see if the U.S. EPA considers a similar analysis for these insecticidal seed treatments in corn production systems,” he said.
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The Poultry Nutrition Short Course was held August 25 – August 29, 2014 at the National Soybean Research Laboratory on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

Dr. Carl Parsons, Professor in the Animal Sciences Department of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences conducted fifteen hours of poultry nutrition training. Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor and Soybean Industry Endowed Chair in the Agricultural and Consumer Economics Department and Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory welcomed the participants and provided an overview of the University of Illinois along with a presentation entitled Alleviating Food Insecurity Across the World Through The Use Of Soy.

The group visited two farms during the week. The first was the Gary and Shelley Place farm near Homer, IL. The Place’s farm 2000 acres of corn and soybeans and are actively involved in conservation and sustainability activities on their farm. The group had the opportunity to see numerous pieces of farm equipment including a planter, combine, semis, tractors and antique tractors. They toured the farm, viewed tiling equipment, grain storage facilities and soybeans just a couple weeks away from harvest.

The group also visited the grain and swine farm of Keith and Heather Poppy near Lynn Center, IL. The group toured a confinement swine operation, reviewed feed formulations and were present when the local cooperative filled the silos with feed for the hog operation. They also gained information on the corn and soybean anticipated yields and discussed the intricacies of the livestock industry.

The August Poultry Nutrition Short Course included a field trip to Incobrasa, Industries, a soybean processing company who sells soybean meal, crude soybean oil, soy hulls and biodiesel. The Incobrasa crushing facility has the capacity to process 2,000 tons of soybeans a day. The participants also toured the automated bottling and packaging facility that can fill 24,000 bottles of soybean oil per hour.

The participants also visited Hi Grade Egg Producers, a subsidiary of Midwest Poultry Services. They toured the layer facility that houses 2 million hens and produces 144,000 dozen eggs per day for distribution to grocery stores East of the Mississippi River. They saw the processing operation, learned more about feed formulations and preparation based on the age and size of the bird and compared notes on best management practices. In addition, the group toured the University of Illinois Poultry Research Facility and found out about ovarian cancer research being done at the U of I.

On Friday, the participants traveled to the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois where they engaged with interactive, hands-on exhibits, films, and displays of equipment, telling the story of agriculture past, present and future. They climbed up to sit on tractors, found out more about the history of John Deere and discovered what technology and innovation runs agriculture today. It gave them the chance to see where agriculture, construction and forestry are heading, here in America and around the world.

The week wrapped up with a tour of Locks & Dam 15 at the Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois on the Mississippi River. Since the early 1800’s the Corps of Engineers has been instrumental in making the river navigable for commercial and recreational vessels. The main lock is 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. The 1,203 foot long movable dam is the largest roller dam in the world. It takes three hours for water to travel from Locks and Dam 14 to 15 and it takes about one and one half hours for a vessel to pass through 15. The tour ended with a film about L&D 15 at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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