Updated: December 17, 2018
Fungicide resistance is a serious issue many U.S. soybean farmers are beginning to face. While not yet as prevalent as herbicide resistance, fungicide resistance is a growing threat across the soybean-growing region. A 2016 soy checkoff yield-robbers study estimates that more than 300 million bushels of soybeans are already lost annually to disease in the U.S. That number will likely increase as fungicide options decrease due to fungicide resistance.
There are few cultural and mechanical options to slow or stop the spread of disease during the growing season. Without chemical control options for those diseases, yield loss will increase exponentially. Farmers and the industry must take steps now to prevent the spread of fungicide resistance before it’s too late.
Farmers should proactively implement management strategies that include non-chemical options for control, such as selecting soybean varieties with disease resistance or rotating soybeans with non-legume crops to prevent the spread of disease-causing pathogens. Chemical control options, such as seed treatments and aerial fungicide applications, should only be used when absolutely necessary — after the disease pressure has reached the economic threshold — and be used responsibly by frequently rotating effective modes of action.
As we learned with herbicides, once resistance develops, it’s not long before that tool is lost for good.
Why the Checkoff Cares
Fungicide resistance costs soybean farmers time and money and impacts their profitability. USB encourages farmers to adopt best management practices, with emphasis on pest management, to enhance the overall sustainability of the U.S. soy crop and to avoid potential increase in regulations.
- The soy checkoff played a leading role in establishing the Take Action program, an industry-wide partnership to help farmers manage pest resistance.
- The Take Action industry partnership includes more than 25 universities from major row-crop states around the country, seven major pesticide providers, six farmer-led commodity organizations and one industry organization.
- The Take Action effort encourages farmers to adopt disease-management practices that lessen the impact of resistance to preserve current and future fungicide technology.
- Fungicide resistance is on the horizon. We’ve seen how costly herbicide resistance can be. It’s time to take steps to head off fungicide resistance now.
Facts & Figures
- The 2016 soy checkoff yield-robbers study estimates that more than 300 million bushels of soybeans are lost to fungal diseases annually in the U.S.
- On average, it takes $286 million and 11 years to bring a new pesticide to market, according to CropLife America.
- Fungicides are being used on more acres across the U.S. According to the latest U.S. EPA data, agricultural fungicide sales steadily increased between 2005 and 2012.