Entomology study: Neonicotinoids increase yields for most rice farmers

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In October 2014, the United States EPA issued a report that stated there were no economic benefits for soybean growers who use seed that is pre-treated with insecticides known as neonicotinioids. Shortly afterwards, Robert Johannson, the Acting Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), wrote an open letter to the EPA that disagreed — to put it mildly — with their assessment.

Neonicotinoids are used on soybeans as well as corn, cotton, and rice, as protection against aphids and other insects that suck the sap from plants.

Researchers from Mississippi State University did their own economic assessment, but focused their attention on rice and an insect called the rice water weevil. The results, which are published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, show that there are indeed economic benefits for many farmers, but not all of them.

Related article:  Health Canada sticks with phase out of neonicotinoid insecticides although its study finds impact on bees is limited

The economic benefits depended on whether the rice fields were facing high or low weevil populations, they found.

“There was no observed yield or economic benefit from the use of an insecticidal seed treatment in areas of low pressure,” they wrote. However, “All seed treatments showed an economic advantage in areas of high weevil pressure.”

“We see an economic benefit of neonicotinoid seed treatments on 70-80 percent of the rice grown in the state. Unfortunately, we are not able to accurately predict which fields will have a significant infestation because of when infestations occur relative to when the crop is planted. As a result, we recommend a seed treatment on all of our rice in Mississippi,” said Dr. Jeff Gore, one of the co-authors.

Read full, original post: Rice Seeds Treated with Neonicotinoids May Produce Higher Yields, But Economic Benefits Depend on Insect Pressure

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