Since the inception of glyphosate-tolerant crops in 1996, adoption rates have been incredibly high. According to the USDA, by 2009, these varieties were planted on 91 percent of soybeans and 68 percent of corn acres. These systems have driven dramatic changes in today’s agriculture, generating both economic and environmental benefits for farmers and for the general population. Few farming technologies have been adopted as enthusiastically and broadly.

An Economic Analysis of U.S. Agriculture and Herbicide-Tolerant Crops

High adoption rates for glyphosate-tolerant technology are based on several factors. The following benefits underscore the need for and value of herbicide-tolerant technology.

  • Increased no-till cultivation enabled by glyphosate-tolerant crop technology has three impacts: reduction in fuel consumption, reduction in soil and nutrient loss, and increased carbon sequestration within the soil.
  • USDA’s fuel simulator indicates fuel consumption is reduced by 44 percent in corn and 60 percent in soybeans by switching from conventional tillage to no-till methods.
  • Based on data published by Brookes and Barfoot in 2006, the introduction of glyphosate-tolerant technology resulted in 13,548 million kg in carbon dioxide savings— an equivalent of removing roughly 6.5 million cars from the road.

"The use of 2,4-D to assist in the management of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth would have instant and monumental impact in cotton and soybean production."
     - Stanley Culpepper, University of Georgia

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The challenges that farmers are facing with hard-to-control weeds can greatly affect their bottom line. These weeds threaten yields as they compete for light, water, and nutrients while also increasing the cost of farming. In an effort to fully understand the potential role and impact of the Enlist™ Weed Control System, Dow AgroSciences sought third-party research to analyze several key issues, such as economic savings and environmental benefits.

Key Findings

Within the next ten years, as projected by the study, the Enlist Weed Control System will provide significant benefits in several areas, compared to the most competitive herbicide and tillage alternatives that are currently available.

Economic Savings

  • As glyphosate-resistant weed problems continue to expand, and if Enlist is not available, the use of alternative herbicide and tillage programs are projected to reduce net farm income by $1.9 billion in 2011, up to $2.5 billion as early as 2017, and then continue at that level every year through the rest of the simulation to 2020.
  • The study projected Enlist will cut farm losses by 18 percent, with savings that translate into $4 billion for U.S. farmers and $563 million dollars in consumer welfare.

Environmental Benefits

  • With Enlist, farmers will be able to retain the same no-till practices employed today with the current glyphosate-tolerant system. Without Enlist, farmers would be forced to use alternative herbicide and tillage options, which could result in soil loss, carbon emissions, and water quality and fertilizer implications.
  • Being forced to increase tillage, if Enlist is not available, would cause soil loss which is projected across U.S. farmland to increase 2.6 million tons per year by 2016 and remain at about that level through 2020. This would result in a cumulative additional loss of 24.9 million tons over that period alone. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to stripping the entire plow layer (6.7 inches) off of 12,450 acres of farmland, with much of it potentially ending up in streams and rivers.

The Enlist Weed™ Control System has not received all regulatory approvals and is not yet commercially available.

Methodologies and Case Study Scenarios

Agronomic, economic, and environmental data was used to quantify estimated impacts at both the individual farm and national levels. A combination of farm-level case studies and interviews with weed science experts was used to characterize specific geographic-based data and to identify current challenges and available options.

About The Study

Extensive research resulted in the development of this comprehensive report by Global Insight in cooperation with James E. Nelson, Ph.D., titled “Economic Impacts of New Enlist™ Weed Control System Introduction on Glyphosate Resistant and Other Hard-to-Control weeds in the U.S. Cropping System.” The report looks at the impact of weed resistance on U.S. agriculture with the potential impact Enlist could provide in the future for managing resistant and hard-to-control weeds.

Learn more about the study by viewing the summary.

™Enlist is a trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Components of the Enlist™ Weed Control System are pending regulatory approval. The information provided here is not an offer for sale.



Watch this short video to learn more about the challenge and threat of resistant and hard-to-control weeds.

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Gain insight from scientists, growers and others about increasingly hard-to-control and resistant weeds and the need for a solution.


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