Do farmers overuse chemicals on their crops?
Efficient modern farming practices have become a science. With advancements in technologies like GPS and genetic advancements in crops, there has actually been a reduction in some crop inputs, like pesticides. While fertilizer use overall has not decreased, the use per acre has; fertilizer is applied more precisely and efficiently.
These techniques reflect a change in management where farmers are able to use their inputs more efficiently by applying according to soil and crop needs. Farmers look to follow the 4R nutrient stewardship when it comes to management – use of the right fertilizer product at the right rate at the right time and in the right place.
Farmers are better managing the tools they need.
For example, in 2007, roughly 877 million pounds of active ingredients were applied to U.S. cropland. In comparison, in 1980, roughly 1.1 billion pounds of active ingredients were applied. So, usage went down while yields went up.
Additionally, pesticides peaked in 1999, with 956 million pounds used compared to 2007 when only 877 million pounds were used. Reductions in inputs have greatly reduced the environmental impact, especially for water quality.