Crop Choice, Non-Target Pest Levels, Yield Loss and Their Effect on Insecticide Use in South Dakota
Agriculturally, South Dakota is a unique state possessing the highest rate of adoption for genetically modified crop varieties. In 2009 ninety-six percent of corn acres planted in South Dakota were genetically modified compared with eighty-five percent nationally (Economic Research Service). Additionally, South Dakota has seen a dramatic increase in the number of acres treated with insecticide over the past 20 years. These two situations taken together seem to be counterintuitive. Some genetically modified varieties, such as Bt corn, are equipped with genetic defenses so that they can protect the plant from target pests. Intuitively, one would expect to see a decrease in insecticide use as adoption of genetically modified varieties increase. Recent studies have found that there is a reduction in herbicides applied to herbicide tolerant varieties. Here in South Dakota, though, producers have expressed the opinion that the increase in insecticide use is the result of the emergence and spread of the soybean aphid in the state. This research seeks to address the underlying causes of the increase in insecticide use.
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