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 Special feature from the 2013 Farm Outlook magazine

A further review of pest management and crop control options

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[November 06, 2013]  According to University of Illinois Extension director John Fulton, "One of the major problems this year was the control of mare's-tail and waterhemp (mainly in soybeans). Both these weeds have been classified as having resistance to glyphosate (Roundup)."

In a Purdue Extension report, "2,4-D- and Dicamba-tolerant Crops -- Some Facts to Consider," one of the concluding statements said: "Often, there are no effective herbicides that are easily available for some crops, or it is not desirable or possible to use more intensive tillage on large acreages. The presence of glyphosate-resistant weeds imperils the long-term sustainability of the RR (Roundup Ready) system unless producers practice more integrated weed management that relies less on the sole use of glyphosate."

In 1998, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service began publishing farmer surveys of pest management practices. Farmers were asked to answer "yes/no" questions, which were then categorized for the report into one of four pest management categories: prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression.

Two tables were created for each crop: corn and soybeans. The first table shows percent of planted acres; the second table shows percent of farms.

Beginning in 2000, the survey reflects the introduction of genetically modified soybeans, and soon to follow, corn traits with insect and herbicide resistance.

Summaries below provide a look back at pest management practices for the years 1997 and 2000. For a page of related tables (PDF), click here.

The USDA has shifted the survey of pest management practices to the Agricultural Chemical Use Program. The new categories of research were added, including specific use of fertilizers and pesticides, as well as other valuable data.

The pest management practices portion of the 2010 corn crop survey offered even more details, expanding to 97 specific action items in each table representing percent of acres and percent of farms.

Below is a summary and highlights of the 2010 corn crop:

The 2010 corn crop data represents 4,893 individual responses from producers in 25 program states: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. These states accounted for 93 percent of corn acres planted nationwide in the 2010 crop year.


Herbicide active ingredients were applied to 98 percent of acres planted to corn, and almost two-thirds of all active ingredients used on corn were herbicides. Glyphosate isopropylamine salt was the most widely used pesticide overall and the active ingredient used in the greatest total amount.

Fungicide was applied to 8 percent of corn acres, and insecticide active ingredients were applied to 12 percent of corn acres.

Pest management practices

Scouting for weeds was the top pest management practice on corn acreage.

Top pest management practices by percent of corn acres planted:

  • Prevention: No-till or minimum till -- 62 percent

  • Avoidance: Rotated crops during past three years -- 71 percent

  • Monitoring: Scouted for weeds -- 88 percent

  • Suppression: Maintained ground covers, mulches or other physical barriers -- 34 percent

[to top of second column]

Top pesticides by percent of acres treated:

  • Glyphosate isopropylamine salt -- 66 percent

  • Atrazine -- 61 percent

  • Acetochlor -- 25 percent

Below is a summary and highlights of the 2012 soybean crop:

Pest management practices by percent of soybean acres planted:

  • Scouting for weeds was the most widely reported monitoring practice -- 94 percent.

  • Crop rotation was practiced as the top avoidance practice -- 84 percent.

  • No-tillage or minimum tillage represented the most widely used pest prevention practice -- 67 percent.

  • Maintaining ground covers, mulches or other physical barriers was the most reported suppression practice -- 35 percent.

The same practices were also the top practices for the last survey of soybean crops in 2006.

Pesticide use

The pesticide active ingredients used on soybeans are classified in this report as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or other chemicals. Herbicides were used most extensively, applied to 98 percent of soybean acres. Insecticides and fungicides were applied to 18 percent and 11 percent of planted acres, respectively. Among herbicides, glyphosate potassium salt was the most widely used (59 percent of planted acres), followed by glyphosate isopropylamine salt (30 percent).

The next survey on corn is scheduled for 2015. Soybeans would be surveyed next in 2017.


For more information on these and other crops, visit the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service page for the Agricultural Chemical Use Program.

Information on organic corn chemical usage and pest management practices is included in the organic corn summary available in the Quick Stats 2.0 database accessible from the page link above.

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