Insecticide use across the US has increased from 1997 to 2012, according to a recently published paper by Tim Meehan (former UW research associate) and Claudio Gratton entitled “A Landscape View of Agricultural Insecticide Use across the Conterminous US from 1997 through 2012”. Using data published from the US Census of Agriculture, Tim and Claudio found that the amount of insecticide used on a per-county basis has increased from 1997 to 2012, especially in the upper Midwest and deep South regions. They also found that a greater number of counties have become more “simplified” (i.e., converted from species-rich natural habitat to monoculture of annual crops) across the US during the 15-year period. While the authors do not test mechanisms for the positive relationship between landscape simplification and insecticide use, there are many reasons for why farmers are applying more insecticide. These reasons include loss of natural enemies of crop pests with increasing landscape simplification, evolution of pest resistance to insecticides, and relatively cheap cost of applying insecticides. The authors conclude that large-scale studies linking landscape characteristics with the ecology of agricultural pests are needed for predicting the consequences of land-use change for agricultural pests and for developing sustainable pest management practices.
This article was posted in Agroecosystems.