Neonic pesticides offer negligible benefits to farmers? ‘Nonsense,’ says Iowa soybean grower

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Seeds coated with neonicotinoids. Image: ACSESS Digital Library

Most people would say that life is unpredictable. We have our plans and routines, but there’s no way to tell what a day will bring. Farmers are particularly tuned in to that reality. Every growing season offers a new opportunity to work and wrestle with nature to bring forth a healthy harvest. Variables range from the weather to soil conditions to pest problems. We make our plans and use our best tools, but it’s ultimately a guessing game, albeit an educated one.

It seems like this should go without saying, yet a meta-study recently released by 23 academics seems to miss this central feature of farming life. It claimed that using soybean seeds coated with insecticides belonging to a class called neonicotinoids provide negligible benefits. As a soybean farmer of 46 years, I can tell you this is nonsense.

Related article:  Genetic Literacy Project's Top 6 Stories for the Week

[Editor’s note: Wayne Fredericks is a farmer in Osage, Iowa]

I personally tested out the value of neonics on my farm in 2015. Using the insecticide increased my yields that year by an average of 0.8 bushel per acre. That …. that translates to an additional $7.20 per acre (using an estimate of $9 per bushel). The insecticide cost about $4 per acre, so with 300 acres of soybeans, I got an extra $1,000 from my harvest.

Read full, original article: Perspective: Soybean study in the journal Nature misses the point

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