Farmers need to protect their crops from damaging pests

Every year, as much as 40 percent of the world’s potential harvests are lost to damaging insects, weeds, and plant diseases. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), these losses could double without pesticides and other crop protection practices.

Most farmers, including both organic and conventional farmers, use some type of pesticide to keep insects, weeds and plant diseases from hurting their crops. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to harvest nearly as much.

Importantly, pesticides help farmers use water, soil, and other important resources more efficiently. For example, some pesticides are used to control weeds, which steal water from crops. And controlling weeds with pesticides can help significantly reduce soil erosion by minimizing the need to till fields. That also helps mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

What are pesticides?

There are three main types of agricultural pesticides:

  • Herbicides protect plants from weeds that can steal water and nutrients
  • Insecticides protect plants against harmful insects
  • Fungicides protect plants from fungi that spread disease
[unex_ce_article_callout_text layer-name="Layer Name" callout_type="callout-text" id="content_9wkyoyfhu" post_id="9098" semplice_styles_background_color="transparent" semplice_styles_background_image="" semplice_styles_background_size="auto" semplice_styles_background_position="50% 0%" semplice_styles_background_repeat="no-repeat" semplice_styles_padding_top="0px" semplice_styles_padding_bottom="0px" semplice_styles_padding_left="0" semplice_styles_padding_right="0"]

What are pesticides?

There are three main types of agricultural pesticides:

  • Herbicides protect plants from weeds that can steal water and nutrients
  • Insecticides protect plants against harmful insects
  • Fungicides protect plants from fungi that spread disease
[/ce_article_callout_text]

Farmers use pesticides sensibly in a targeted way

There’s no single solution when it comes to crop protection. Pesticides are one tool farmers can use to complement other common and effective practices, such as cover crops, tilling, crop rotation, and proper timing of planting.

Pesticides work best when used in the right place, at the right time, and in the right amount. Weed, insect, and disease levels change every season, so farmers adapt to use only what’s necessary. Modern tools like GPS guidance on sprayers and site-specific nozzles help farmers use only as much as needed.

In the U.S., most farmers regularly complete pesticide training and certification as required by their state. State Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEP) provide information on the safe, precise, and effective use of pesticides. Training and certification is done in conjunction with the use of specific labeled instructions that accompany products.

Regulatory authorities rigorously assess pesticide safety

Before companies can make pesticides available to farmers, these crop protection tools must undergo comprehensive evaluations by regulatory authorities. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all pesticides to undergo more than 100 safety studies before they are approved.

Even after regulatory authorities approve a pesticide for use, they continue to consider new information to assess the safety of registered products. And no pesticide’s regulatory approval is permanent. In the U.S., the EPA routinely reviews registered products to ensure they continue to meet safety standards.

As consumers ourselves, we fully support the comprehensive and science-based processes used by the EPA and other regulatory authorities around the world to ensure these crop protection tools can be used safely, according to label directions.

Monsanto offers a variety of crop protection products

Here are some of the crop protection tools we offer farmers to fit into their overall strategy for controlling pests:

 

We also offer products that complement traditional pesticide sprays. For example, farmers have the option to plant seeds within a protective shell, which provides a highly precise method for dealing with some pests. Another technology triggers a natural process that already exists within plant cells, so plants can develop traits to defend themselves against some pests. We are also developing solutions in the area of agricultural biologicals, which uses naturally occurring materials and processes to help control a variety of pests and promote plant health.

To help farmers combine different tools and build an overall strategy for controlling pests, Monsanto works with university researchers, industry partners and others to provide recommendations. We believe bringing diverse perspectives to the table is the most effective way to develop real solutions.

While crop protection is a significant focus area for Monsanto, we are also bringing farmers a broad range of other solutions to help them sustainably grow their crops. Increasingly, our aim is to develop solutions that are integrated and complementary. We are working in the areas of plant breeding, biotechnology and data science to bring farmers products and services that work together as a system to help farmers achieve their best possible harvest. Click here to learn more.