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A Rationale for Atrazine Stewardship in Corn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Clarence J. Swanton*
Affiliation:
Department of Plant Agriculture, Crop Science Building, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road E., Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada
Robert H. Gulden
Affiliation:
Department of Plant Agriculture, Crop Science Building, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road E., Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada
Kevin Chandler
Affiliation:
Department of Plant Agriculture, Crop Science Building, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road E., Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada
*
Corresponding author's E-mail: cswanton@uoguelph.ca

Abstract

In several European nations, including France and Germany, atrazine has been banned because of environmental concerns. However, in Canada, atrazine remains an important component of modern weed control in corn. The objectives of this study were to determine the value of atrazine to corn producers by examining weed control efficacy, yield of corn, adjusted gross return, and the variability associated with PRE and POST herbicides applied alone or in combination with atrazine. A randomized complete-block design experiment was conducted at two locations for 3 yr to evaluate the performance of selected PRE and POST herbicides with and without atrazine. The addition of atrazine to PRE herbicides increased weed control (25%), improved herbicide performance consistency, increased corn yields (8%), increased adjusted gross return (Can$59 ha−1), and reduced risk ($30 ha−1) over sites and years. Although improving weed control, the addition of atrazine to POST herbicides increased the risk of return compared with treatments without atrazine by about $20 ha−1 because the increased cost of atrazine was not always offset by higher corn yields. Our results clearly demonstrate a value of atrazine for broadleaf weed control in corn, both in terms of efficacy and economic return. From our findings, we estimated that the economic benefit of atrazine to Ontario, Canada, corn producers to be at least $26.1 million in 2004. Under current economic pressures facing agricultural producers, our findings show that a balance between the environmental effects and the benefits of atrazine to corn producers must be found because no alternative herbicide with equal economic and agronomic attributes is available at this time. To meet this balance, research on further reducing atrazine use rates while maintaining effective weed control in corn and on developing a sustainable stewardship plan is warranted.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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