It may be a matter of semantics. But if you listen to EPA and some university researchers, they would have you believe seed insecticides are no longer needed because the pests they control aren't a big deal anymore.
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Is it they aren't a big deal, or is it there isn't a yield increase for using the insecticide? And is it "there isn't a yield increase" every year, even in years when those non-existent insects magically appear?
The EPA issued an opinion late last year indicating that it questioned whether or not whether certain seed insecticides were still needed, because there was no longer a yield advantage for them. Some university specialists have been saying the same thing, even saying that it's bad science to be using these because there isn't a need. Some of the same specialists would have you believe it's gospel and without debate that seed treatments don't pay.
Somehow in many company studies there is often a response to various insecticides of seeds. The EPA and some university specialists are interested because they believe these insecticides are harming bees. The seed companies on the other hand, believe that there is real value to these products in many cases.
How do you sort it out? Gene Flaningam, owner of Flaningam Ag Consulting, LLC, Vincennes, Ind., and a certified crop adviser, says it's true he sees less insect damage to stands these days. However, in an ironic twist, he says he believes it's because more farmers are using seed treatments.
At the same time, he recognizes that unneeded use of these insecticides could be bad for the environment. His recommendation is to develop a pest management plan that could have a positive impact on both the environment and overall profit.
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High-risk fields and corn-after corn fields are likely candidates for seed treatments, he says. High-risk fields include those with a history of problems from various pests, some minor pests, including wireworm. Then he adds that perhaps you could consider a low rate of seed insecticide on fields without a history of problems.