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According to a new economic study by Paul D. Mitchell, Ph.D., associate professor of Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the herbicide atrazine benefits U.S. corn, sorghum, and sugar cane farmers by up to $3.3 billion annually, thanks to increased yield, decreased cost, and reduced soil erosion.
Mitchell will present the findings of his paper, “Economic Assessment of the Benefits of Chloro-s-triazine Herbicides to U.S. Corn, Sorghum, and Sugar Cane Producers,” on Wednesday, December14, 2011, at the 2011 North Central Weed Science Society Annual Meeting in Milwaukee.
The study’s key findings include:
“There is no good substitute for atrazine. It’s an off-patent, affordable, and well understood product,” said Mitchell. “Atrazine significantly increases yields and is a vital tool for controlling weeds in corn, sorghum, and sugar cane.”
Though it has been more than 50 years since the herbicide was first introduced, the continuing importance of atrazine, along with simazine and propazine, to U.S. agriculture and global food supplies cannot be overstated. In addition to managing weeds, atrazine and its sister triazines are critical to support conservation tillage practices that improve soil conservation in row crop production.
Mitchell grew up on his family’s farm in Iowa and received his doctorate from Iowa State University. Before coming to University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. His current research and outreach programs focus on the farm-level economics of crop production, emphasizing pest management, risk management, and specialty crop economics.