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Atrazine Benefits

With its wide range of uses, atrazine has many benefits.

Atrazine is critically important to US farmers.  They value it for its effectiveness against some of the toughest weeds in corn — like lambsquarters, morningglory, nightshade, pigweed, cocklebur, velvetleaf and foxtails — that make it the most popular herbicide in pre-mix combination products.  Farmers like atrazine for its cost effectiveness and power to increase crop yields, delivering an estimated $28/acre advantage over other herbicides.  And as America’s original stewards of the environment, growers value atrazine for its compatibility with conservation tillage.

Farmers use atrazine to control weeds on well over half of the country’s corn acreage, about two-thirds of sorghum acreage and 90 percent of its sugar cane. In 2008, atrazine was used on nearly 70 percent of Illinois corn acreage, making it the second the most popular herbicide for the state’s corn farmers.

Atrazine’s benefits have a proven track record.  These benefits are clear and substantial.

Weed Control and Reduced Costs: In comparisons with alternative products, atrazine is consistently proven to be more reliable, effective against a broader spectrum of weeds and less expensive than any other available approach to weed control.  Alternative products are typically less effective and require higher volumes and/or multiple applications. According to EPA, farmers who use atrazine save as much as $28 per acre in herbicide costs and increased yields.

Increased Crop Yields: Numerous studies comparing the crop yields for fields treated by atrazine versus alternative treatments show that atrazine-treated fields produce consistently higher yields–from 4.3 bushels an acre to as much as 10.8 bushels per acre. Field trials show sorghum yields are also improved–by an average 11.3 bushels per acre. Even more impressive are estimates for increased yield in sugar cane acreage which range from 12 to 50 percent.

Conservation Tillage: Unlike many other herbicides, atrazine can be applied prior to, during or after planting the crop, or after crop emergence. This application flexibility makes atrazine very popular for use in conservation tillage or no-till systems—farming methods that eliminate plowing and/or reduce tillage. Atrazine is the most widely-used conservation tillage herbicide in corn and is a critical rotation product to manage weed resistance.

Conservation tillage makes cropland much less vulnerable to soil erosion, which is reduced by as much as 90 percent when compared to intensive tillage. And when erosion is prevented, so is the runoff of sediment to nearby waterways, helping to protect aquatic ecosystems and the quality of drinking water. EPA ranks sediment runoff as the number one pollutant in our nation’s waterways.

Conservation tillage also cuts the amount of fuel used by farmers, reducing their production costs, lowering exhaust emissions and decreasing consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels.

Farmers currently use conservation tillage or no-tillage on almost 44 million acres of corn in the United States. Atrazine is the preferred herbicide in these systems, and its loss would greatly impact that achievement.

Benefits to stand behind: Atrazine is the herbicide of choice for our nation’s corn farmers; they are confident in its proven track record of safety and effectiveness. During a recent EPA review, the agency received more than 80,000 public comments from growers, universities, commodity organizations and other farm-related groups and government agencies. The overwhelming majority of these comments point to the high value placed on atrazine by those who know it best.

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