A study at the University of Illinois aims at showing how important atrazine is to crops in the Midwest. The study looked at 175 sweet corn fields in the Midwest.
“While the vast majority of our Kansas corn growers raise field corn, which is a feedgrain, this research is valuable because it helps us understand how vegetable farmers also rely on atrazine,” according to Jere White, Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association.
Researchers noticed atrazine was being applied to two-thirds of the sweet corn acres; row cultivation was used on about half of the sweet corn acreage. Here is what one of the researchers, Marty Williams had to say about the study:
"If the use of atrazine was phased out completely, our data indicate the greatest burden would be on those growers who rely on less tillage for weed control, have particularly weedy fields, have early season crop production, and grow sweet corn in rotation with other vegetables such as snap or lima beans," said U of I and USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist Marty Williams. "Vegetable crops have fewer herbicide options and there tends to be poorer levels of weed control in those crops. When more weeds escape, more weed seed are produced, and crops succeeding those vegetables can have challenging weed problems."
"Atrazine is the single most widely used herbicide in sweet corn, applied to fields before crop emergence, after crop emergence, or at both times," Williams said. "Manufacturers of many of the other herbicides recommend tank-mixing with atrazine to increase their products' effectiveness."
Atrazine is currently the subject of yet another review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning the safety of the herbicide, despite numerous studies contradicting the need to question its safety. If you would like to read the rest of this study, “Significance of Atrazine in Sweet Corn Weed Management Systems” is published in the April-June issue of Weed Technology.
White also serves as chairman of the Triazine Network a nationwide coalition of grower groups who are represent growers in regulatory issues affecting atrazine and other triazine herbicides.
“EPA opened a special review of the triazine herbicides back in 1994 and gave it a clean bill of health in 2006. A media blitz by activist groups in 2009 spurred EPA to announce another round of science advisory panels on the herbicide,” White said. “Our goal is to make sure EPA continues to base its decisions on good scientific research, and not politics.”