Study shows value of neonicotinoid seed treatments for soybeans

grape colaspis
Grape colaspis is one of the pests that neonicotinoid seed treatments target. — photo courtesy North Carolina State University

An analysis of neonicotinoid insecticidal seed treatments by a group of Mid-South entomologists found they yielded economic benefits for soybean producers.

Led by Mississippi State University entomologist Jeff Gore, they published their work in a recent issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology. The other researchers were J.H. North, MSU; Angus Catchot, MSU; Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee; Gus Lorenz, University of Arkansas; Fred Musser, MSU; Donald Cook, MSU; David Kerns, Louisiana State University; and Darrin Dodds, MSU.

The Environmental Protection Agency has put neonicotinoids under the magnifying glass because of possible effects on honey bee health.

The researchers examined 170 trials conducted in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee from 2005-2014. Their results showed significantly greater yields in all states when seeds were treated with neonicotinoids compared with yields from fungicide-only treated seeds.

In fact, soybeans treated with neonics yielded 132 kilograms per hectare, or about 118 pounds per acre, more than fungicide-only treated seed. This resulted in net returns of $1,203 per hectare, or $2,973 per acre, compared with $1,172 per hectare, or $2,896 per acre, for fungicide-only treated seed across the Mid-South.

When analyzed on a state-by-state basis, yields from neonicotinoid seed treatments were significantly higher than fungicide-only treated seed in Louisiana and Mississippi.

But the researchers were quick to point out that higher yields were only seen in four of 10 years.

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