Pesticide Use

M2M manages an extensive data system covering agricultural pesticide use in the U.S. It draws exclusively on U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) surveys going back to the late 1960s.

nass pesticide cover

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) collects data on pesticide use.

Since 1990, NASS has surveyed major grain and row crops on a nearly annual basis. Vegetable crops are surveyed in even years, and fruit crops in odd years.

Data is compiled and reported for herbicides, insecticide, fungicides, and other pesticides, by active ingredient, by crop, and at the national and state levels. States accounting for about 85% or more of national crop acreage in a given year are typically surveyed by NASS.

Each crop-year table in a NASS report includes the percent of surveyed acres treated with pesticide X, the average one-time rate of application, the average number of applications, the rate per crop year (average rate multiplied by average number of applications), and the pounds of active ingredient applied.

pesticide_use_sm

M2M’s Pesticide Use Data System provides pesticide active ingredient use per acre of crop in the United States and by state.

Over many years, NASS has carried out its surveys with a consistent methodology, producing the highest quality, publicly accessible dataset on trends in pesticide use by U.S. farmers. M2M will develop and post easy-to-use lookup tools to provide access to specific information on pesticide use by crop, pesticide, state, and over time.

The M2M pesticide use data system can be used to analyze the impacts of pesticide regulatory policy changes, or specific regulatory actions, as well as the impacts of new technology and changes in pest pressure.

For example, the introduction of nicotinyl insecticides in the mid-1990s provided farmers badly needed alternatives to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides known to pose relatively high risks to farmworkers, and consumers via dietary residues. The shift in reliance toward the nicotinyls can be studied in considerable detail via this data set, in conjunction with other M2M analytical systems.

The introduction of genetically engineered (GE), herbicide-resistant crops in 1996 quickly transformed cotton, corn, and soybean weed management systems. Use of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate rose rapidly, displacing a long list of other active ingredients. Yet over time, excessive reliance on one weed management tactic (herbicides), and one herbicide active ingredient (glyphosate), triggered inevitable shifts in weed communities and the emergence of resistant weed phenotypes.

first nine years

The M2M pesticide use database has been used in conjunction with a simulation model to quantify the impacts of GE crops on pesticide use in the U.S. Future work will focus on creating new tools that encompass for all GE crops:

  • Impacts on the number of pesticides applied during the growing season, average application rates and acre-treatments, and pounds applied.
  • In the case of Bt crops, the volume of Bt endotoxins produced, compared to the pounds of insecticides displaced by choosing a Bt cultivar.
  • Environmental impacts per acre of GE crop production.