Some experts oppose proposed EPA restrictions on atrazine

When the top layer of soil is disturbed, the soil is more likely to erode and cause more fertilizer and pesticide runoff.
When the top layer of soil is disturbed, the soil is more likely to erode and cause more fertilizer and pesticide runoff. | File photo
The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft ecological risk assessment in June that is highly critical of atrazine, even though the herbicide helps farmers control soil erosion and runoff and helps keep soil healthy in the long run.

The EPA is recommending that atrazine be effectively banned and for farmers to till their land instead. However, tillage, or the turning up of the soil, also has its negatives; when the top layer of soil is disturbed, the soil is more likely to erode and cause more fertilizer and pesticide runoff.

“Atrazine was one of the first products used on a large acreage because it is broad spectrum and has a wide margin of safety,” Iowa State University professor of weed science Bob Hartzler said. “Prior to that, tillage was the primary means of weed control. Atrazine makes it possible to reduce trips across the field. The extra two or three trips farmers were making across the field to control weeds loosened the soil and made it prone to erosion.”

Chip Bowling, the president of the National Corn Growers Association, wants the EPA to re-evaluate its position on atrazine.

“The EPA’s mission is to protect the environment. Atrazine plays an important role in sustainable agriculture, and banning it will hurt the environment, not help it,” Bowling said.“Farmers care deeply about keeping America’s land and water safe for our families, our neighbors, and our communities. The safe, responsible use of herbicides such as atrazine are an important part of modern, sustainable farming. Farmers need access to tools that ensure a safe, abundant, and affordable supply of food and fuel for consumers around the world.”

Farmers can help by leaving comments on NCGA’s website by Oct. 4.

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National Corn Growers Association 632 Cepi Drive Chesterfield, MO - 63005

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