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Publication #PI-139

Pesticide Use Trends in the United States: Agricultural Pesticides1

Frederick M. Fishel2

Introduction

The EPA, in cooperation with the USDA and FDA, is responsible for regulating the production and use of pesticides in the U.S. This document is one of a series that provides data on volumes used and sales of pesticides from the most up-to-date EPA survey available, 2006–2007. This document focuses on the agricultural pesticides market sector. Other documents within this series address the industry/commercial/government and lawn and garden sectors. The intent of this information is only to present an objective profile and does not attempt to interpret, reach conclusions about, or make inferences regarding the data. Conclusions should not be drawn in regards to impacts on human health, the environment, or the economy.

Data Sources

The data reported in this document are based upon EPA estimates. The EPA does not have a program devoted specifically to estimating pesticide use; rather, it uses the best available information from the public domain and proprietary sources. The data are approximate values and not statistically precise. The sources that EPA consults for compiling this information include the following:

  • The Pesticide Data Center in the Biological and Economic Analysis Division of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs;

  • Several national database services for compiling agricultural pesticide use data, including the USDA; and

  • Others from private pesticide marketing research companies.

Explanation of Data Components

The expenditure data presented in Table 1 separate broad classes of pesticides—herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and other pesticides. The "herbicide" data combine plant growth regulators (PGR) with them, while "fungicides and other" include sulfur, petroleum oil, nematicides, fumigants, and other miscellaneous conventional pesticides. The use data shown in Table 2 are presented similarly, except that nematicides and fumigants are presented as a separate category. In reporting the amount used, data are presented as pounds of active ingredient (a.i.). Totals may not add precisely due to rounding.

U.S. Agricultural Pesticide Expenditures

The U.S. agricultural pesticide expenditures totaled more than $7 billion in 2006 and 2007 (Table 1). Expenditures on herbicides/plant growth regulators accounted for the largest portion of total expenditures (more than 50% both years), followed by expenditures on insecticides, fungicides, and other pesticides, respectively. There was little change in relative quantities of pesticide expenditures for each class of pesticide both years. Total expenditures for agricultural pesticides as a whole were down in 2006 compared to 2007.

U.S. Agricultural Pesticide Amount Used

The U.S. pesticide amount used in 2006 and 2007 exceeded 600 million pounds both years (Table 2). The largest portion of U.S. agricultural pesticides used each year was herbicides, followed by nematicides and fumigants, insecticides and miticides, fungicides, and other pesticides. Total volume of agricultural pesticides used was less in 2006 compared with 2007.

Most Commonly Used Conventional Agricultural Pesticide Active Ingredients

Table 3 shows the 10 most commonly used conventional agricultural pesticide active ingredients in 2007 and dates back to 2001. Glyphosate was the most used active ingredient in 2007, totaling between 180 million and 185 million pounds. Of the top 25 active ingredients (entire list not shown), 13 are herbicides; three are fungicides; three are insecticides; five are fumigants; and one is a plant growth regulator.

Additional information

Grube, A., T. Kiely, D. Donaldson, and L. Wu. 2011. Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage: 2006 and 2007 Market Estimates. EPA's Biological and Economic Analysis Division, Office of Pesticide Programs, and Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances

http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/07pestsales/07pestsales/table_of_contents2007.htm.

Table 1. 

U.S. Agricultural Pesticide Expenditures by Pesticide Class—2006 and 2007

Class

Millions $

% of Total

2006

Herbicides/PGR

4,077

56

Insecticides/Miticides

1,830

25

Fungicides and Other*

1,432

19

Total

7,339

100

2007

Herbicides/PGR

4,211

54

Insecticides/Miticides

1,999

25

Fungicides and Other*

1,659

21

Total

7,869

100

Table 2. 

U.S. Agricultural Pesticide Amount Used by Pesticide Class—2006 and 2007

Class

Millions Pounds a.i.

% of Total

2006

Herbicides/PGR

407

63

Insecticides/Miticides

69

11

Fungicides

46

7

Nematicides/Fumigants

96

15

Other

25

4

Total

643

100

2007

Herbicides/PGR

442

65

Insecticides/Miticides

65

9

Fungicides

44

6

Nematicides/Fumigants

108

16

Other

25

4

Total

684

100

Table 3. 

Ten Most Commonly Used Conventional Agricultural Pesticide Active Ingredients (millions pounds active ingredient)

Active Ingredient

Type*

2007

2005

2003

2001

Rank

Range**

Rank

Range

Rank

Range

Rank

Range

Glyphosate

H

1

180-185

1

155-160

1

128-133

1

85-90

Atrazine

H

2

73-78

2

70-75

2

75-80

2

74-80

Metam sodium

Fum

3

50-55

3

39-44

3

45-50

3

57-62

Metolachlor-S

H

4

30-35

5

27-32

6

28-33

9

20-24

Acetochlor

H

5

28-33

6

26-31

5

30-35

4

30-35

Dichloropropene

Fum

6

27-32

4

30-35

7

20-24

8

20-25

2,4-D

H

7

25-29

7

24-28

4

30-35

5

28-33

Methyl bromide

Fum

8

11-15

8

12-16

8

13-17

7

20-25

Chloropicrin

Fum

9

9-11

10

9-12

9

9-12

18

5-9

Pendimethalin

H

10

7-9

9

9-12

10

9-12

11

15-19

*H = herbicide; Fum = fumigant; I = insecticide.

**Range is the estimate taken from several data sources.

Footnotes

1.

This document is PI-139, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date January 2007. Revised April 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Frederick M. Fishel, professor, Agronomy Department, and director, Pesticide Information Office; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition. Use pesticides safely. Read and follow directions on the manufacturer's label.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.