Even In Tough Times, No-Tillers Still Spending to Protect Yields

The percentage of growers applying insecticides and fungicides in cash crops, and overall spending on these crop protection products, continues to increase.

Although environmental pressures and concerns over soil health have caused some no-tillers to re-examine their use of insecticides and fungicides, data from the 11th annual No-Till Farmer Operational Benchmark Study shows use of these products isn’t necessarily decreasing.

Figures show fungicide applications in corn and soybeans is up by several percentage points since 2015. The same pattern holds true with cereal grains, but to a lesser extent than with other crops.

In 2018, 37% of no-tillers applied fungicides to corn, which is up from 32% in 2017 and 24% in 2016. For soybeans, 40% of no-tillers said they applied a fungicide in 2018, a much higher percentage than in 2017 (32%), 2016 (30%) or 2015 (27%).

Some 37% of no-tillers applied fungicides to cereal crops in 2018, roughly the same as 2017 but up slightly over 2016 (35%) and 2015 (34%).

Percentage of growers who applied fungicide in 2018 to:
  2019 2018 2017 2016
Corn 37% 32% 25% 28%
Soybeans 40% 32% 30% 27%
Cereals 37% 38% 35% 34%
Source: No-Till Farmer Benchmark Study

Similar trends hold true for insecticide applications in recent years. Some 33% of no-tillers applied an insecticide to corn in 2018, up from 25% in 2017, 23% in 2016 and 13% in 2015. For soybeans, 33% of no-tillers applied an insecticide in 2018 — up 7 points from 2017 and 2016 and nearly 9 points from 2015.

Percentage of growers who applied insecticide in 2018 to:
  2019 2018 2017 2016
Corn 33% 25% 23% 13%
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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein was senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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