Pesticide Use In Production Agriculture

It is clear that many people across the United States are concerned with pesticide applications in agriculture. Many citizens voice their opinions solely based on what they hear on social media and national and local news. The use of agricultural pesticides in the United States has decreased over the last few decades, but the application of glyphosate herbicide has increased due to the release and success of glyphosate resistant crops. Pesticides are used in agriculture to control weeds, insect infestation, and diseases. Insecticides are generally the most acutely (immediately) toxic. Herbicides are more widely used, with RoundUp and atrazine being the two most used pesticides in the world. Herbicides present chronic risks associated with the applications and handling.

Many people do not understand that these pesticide applications are necessary to increase or protect crop yield and increase crop quality. Herbicides reduce the amount of labor, machinery, and fuel used for mechanical weed control. Pesticides are a necessity to producers in the vegetable industry. Pesticide applications are valuable to keep produce appearance fresh for consumer preferences. The use of pesticides in the United States is heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has primary authority to register and regulate pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act allows the EPA to register pesticides using risk/benefit standards. The regulation of pesticides in the United States is very strict to protect applicators and handlers of pesticides.

I interviewed my cousin who is a graduate of WIU who stated that he has noticed that many farmers are being more careful with the application of pesticides. “It is a smart management practice to rotate pesticides and modes of action to decrease the possibility of resistance” he said. He also stated that “chemical methods of eliminating pests are commonly the first or second choice for farmers, but there are other quality methods to manage pests in production agriculture”.

The environmental fate of pesticides rests on future producers and regulators to protect the environment from overusing pesticides.


My name is Nate Mahoney and I am a senior here at Western Illinois University. I am an Agriculture Business major with a minor in agronomy. I grew up on a corn/soybean farm in rural Sangamon County, Illinois.


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