Use & Conservation Tillage
Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. Farmers have used atrazine for over forty years for affordable, effective and safe weed control. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in conservation tillage.
Atrazine is especially useful for protecting the environment, because it enables farmers to grow more crops while reducing soil erosion by 65-95%. Reduced soil erosion and reduced fertilizer runoff through atrazine use has significantly improved water quality in rivers and streams.
Atrazine is used on corn (field and sweet), sorghum, sugarcane, wheat (application to wheat stubble on fallow land following harvest), guava, macadamia nuts, hay, pasture, summer fallow, forestry or woodlands, conifers, woody ornamentals, Christmas trees, sod, and residential and recreational turf (parks, golf courses). Given the specific nature of the turf uses, much of atrazine's use on turf is confined to Florida and the Southeast.
Total annual domestic use averages approximately 76 million pounds of active ingredient. Crops with the highest percent crop treated are field corn (75%), sugarcane (76%), sorghum (59 %), sweet corn (processed) (86 %), and sweet corn (fresh) (50 %). In terms of pounds applied, corn (86%), sorghum (10 %), and sugarcane (3 %) account for the greatest use. Less than 1 % of atrazine is applied for forestry, turf, and other uses.
Approximately three-fourths of all field corn and sorghum are treated with atrazine annually for weed control.
Testimony during Congressional oversight hearings on EPA's implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act emphasized the importance of atrazine to farmers. On pages 29-30 of the hearing transcript, a farmer explained:
To control weeds and produce a high quality crop, I use Atrazine, an effective, affordable broadleaf herbicide. Losing Atrazine would devastate our weed control program. Very few other products are available that do not contain this effective product and those that are often recommend their use in tandem with this affordable product. One product, Balance pro (isoxaflutole), is recommended to be used in conjunction with Atrazine, is much more expensive to use. Compared to the $3.00 per acre cost of Atrazine, Balance pro costs me over $10.00 per acre-an increase of $7.00 per acre in input cost.
The importance of atrazine to farmers is further demonstrated by the fact that a recent French ban on the use of atrazine has had serious economic and crop protection consequences, particularly for maize growers.