Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-8zxtt Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T09:01:35.775Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A Rationale for Atrazine Stewardship in Corn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

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


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.

Research Article
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Literature Cited

Ahel, M., Evans, K. M., Fileman, T. W., and Mantoura, R. F. C. 1992. Determination of atrazine and simazine in estuarine samples by high-resolution gas chromatography and nitrogen selective detection. Anal. Chim. Acta. 268:195204.Google Scholar
Ahrens, W. H. 1994. Herbicide Handbook. 7th ed. Champaign, IL Weed Science Society of America. 352.Google Scholar
Anonymous, , 1971. Guide to chemical weed control. Toronto, ON, Canada Soils and Crops Branch, Ontario Department of Agriculture and Food. 79.Google Scholar
Anonymous, , 2002. Revised Human Health Risk Assessment—Atrazine. Office of pesticide programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed: April 21, 2006.Google Scholar
Anonymous, , 2004a. Re-Evaluation Decision Document—Atrazine. RRD 2004-12. Ottawa, Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency Accessed: March 30, 2006.Google Scholar
Anonymous, , 2004b. Guide to Weed Control 2004 Publication 75. Toronto, ON, Canada Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 348.Google Scholar
Armel, G. R., Wilson, H. R., Richardson, R. J., and Hines, T. E. 2003. Mesotrione, acetochlor, and atrazine for weed management in corn (Zea mays). Weed Technol. 17:284290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chomas, A. J. and Kells, J. J. 2004. Triazine-resistant common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) control in corn with preemergence herbicides. Weed Technol. 18:551554.Google Scholar
Croll, B. T. 1991. Pesticides in surface waters and ground waters. J. Inst. Water Environ. Manag. 5:389395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Diana, S. G., Resetarits, W. J. Jr., Schaeffer, D. J., Beckmen, K. B., and Beasley, V. R. 2000. Effects of atrazine on amphibian growth and survival in artificial aquatic communities. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 19:29612967.Google Scholar
Dinelli, G., Vicari, A., Bonetti, A., and Catizone, P. 1997. Hydrolytic dissipation of four sulfonylurea herbicides. J. Agric. Food Chem. 45:19401945.Google Scholar
Dyson, J. S., Beulke, S., Brown, C. D., and Lane, M. C. G. 2002. Adsorption and degradation of the weak acid mesotrione in soil and environmental fate implications. J. Environ. Qual. 31:613618.Google Scholar
Ferrell, J. A. and Witt, W. W. 2002. Comparison of glyphosate with other herbicides for weed control in corn (Zea mays): Efficacy and economics. Weed Technol. 16:701706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hall, M. R., Swanton, C. J., and Anderson, G. W. 1992. The critical period of weed control in grain corn (Zea mays). Weed Sci. 40:441447.Google Scholar
Hayes, T. B., Haston, K., Tsui, M., Hoang, A., Haeffele, C., and Vonk, A. 2003. Atrazine-induced hermaphrodisom at 0.1 ppb in American leopard frogs (Rana pipiens): laboratory and field evidence. Environ. Health Perspect. 111:568575.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Johnson, W. G., Defelice, M. S., and Holma, C. S. 1997. Application timing affects weed control with metolachlor plus atrazine in no-till corn (Zea mays). Weed Technol. 11:207211.Google Scholar
Littell, R. C., Milliken, G. A., Stroup, W. W., and Wolfinger, R. D. 1996. SAS Systems for Mixed Models. Cary, NC SAS Institute. 633.Google Scholar
Lybecker, D. W., Schweizer, E. E., and King, R. P. 1988. Economic analysis of four weed management systems. Weed Sci. 36:846849.Google Scholar
Marini, R. P. 2003. Approaches to analyzing experiments with factorial arrangements of treatments plus other treatments. Hortscience. 38:117120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGee, B., Berges, H., and Callow, K. 2004. Survey of Pesticide Use in Ontario, 2004—Estimates of Pesticides Used on Field Crops, Fruit and Vegetable Crops, and Other Agricultural Crops. Accessed: March 28, 2006.Google Scholar
McGee, B. 2005. Statistical Summary of Ontario Agriculture. Accessed: April 24, 2006.Google Scholar
[NASS] U.S. Department of Agriculture–National Agricultural Statistic Service 2006. Quick Stats. Accessed: April 24, 2006.Google Scholar
Norsworthy, J. K. and Oliveira, M. J. 2004. Comparison of the critical period of weed control in wide- and narrow-row corn. Weed Sci. 52:802807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pallet, K. E., Cramp, S. M., Little, J. P., Veerasekaran, P., Crudance, A. J., and Slater, A. E. 2001. Isoxaflutole: the background to its discovery and the basis of its herbicidal properties. Pest Manag. Sci. 57:133142.3.0.CO;2-0>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spandl, E., Rabaey, T. L., Kells, J. J., and Harvey, R. G. 1997. Application timing for weed control in corn (Zea mays) with dicamba tank mixtures. Weed Technol. 11:602607.Google Scholar
Swanton, C. J., Vyn, T. J., Chandler, K., and Shrestha, A. 1998. Weed management strategies for no-till soybean (Glycine max) grown on clay soils. Weed Technol. 12:660669.Google Scholar
Thibaut, R. and Porte, C. 2004. Effects of endocrine disrupters on sex steroid synthesis and metabolism pathways in fish. J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 92:485494.Google Scholar
Thomas, A. G. and Frick, B. L. 1993. Influence of tillage systems of weed abundance in southwestern Ontario. Weed Technol. 7:699705.Google Scholar
Willingham, E. J. 2005. The effect of atrazine and temperature on turtle hatchling size and sex ratios. Front. Ecol. Environ. 3:309313.Google Scholar
Ying, G. G., Kookana, R. S., and Mallavarpu, M. 2005. Release and behavior of triazine residues in stabilised contaminated soils. Environ. Pollut. 134:7177.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed