With the Environmental Protection Agency in the early stages of considering whether the herbicide atrazine will continue to be available to farmers, Wisconsin corn, wheat and soybean grower Jim Zimmerman recently told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee how the herbicide’s use allows him and thousands of other farmers to use soil-saving growing practices.
“Applying atrazine to control weeds allows farmers to use conservation tillage, a farming method that leaves the stubble or residue from the previous crop to cover the soil’s surface after planting,” Zimmerman explained. Conservation tillage reduces soil erosion by as much as 90 percent, he continued. “Without atrazine, farmers would have to use higher quantities of other herbicides that are less effective while increasing tillage and threatening soil health and nutrients.”
AFBF has issued an Action Alert on the pending EPA docket related to atrazine and is asking Farm Bureau members to file individual comments before Oct. 4. It is particularly important for farmers to note in their comments the significance of the herbicide to their farms, how it helps control weeds, increase crop yield and, where possible, either saves money or helps increase productivity.
Earlier this year, EPA issued a draft ecological assessment of the herbicide, which is a preliminary step in judging whether the chemical will continue to be available for agricultural producers. The draft assessment, if left unchallenged, would significantly impact continued availability of atrazine by jeopardizing its re-registration.