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October 5, 2012

Limits on Aerial Applications of Insecticides Worry Brazil Farmers

The announcement by the Brazilian Environmental Protection Agency (Ibama) limiting the aerial application of insecticides in Brazil which contain four different active ingredients, is being heavily criticized by the agricultural community in Brazil.

In Mato Grosso for example, soybean producers in the state would be limited to only one aerial application of the restricted chemicals between November 20th and January 1st. Farm leaders point out that as many as four applications of insecticides might be needed during the growing season in order to adequately control soybean pests. Without the availability of alternative chemicals or more frequent aerial applications, soybean pests could cause economic damage to the soybean crop especially during periods of frequent rainfall when ground applications may not be possible.

Farmers are also complaining that the restrictions were announced in late July after farmers may have already made their chemical purchases for the 2012/13 growing season. The lateness of the announcement did not give farmers enough time to pursue alternative insecticides or to purchase the additional ground sprayers that they may need this growing season.

According to the Brazilian Association of Soybean Producers (Aprosoja Brasil), 27% of the insecticides used in soybean production in Brazil are applied by aerial applications and that it would take several years at the minimum for the manufactures to produce enough ground sprayers to substitute for the aerial applications. Additionally, developing new chemicals to substitute for the restricted insecticides would take years to develop and test.

Aprosoja estimates that as much as 4 million tons of potential soybean production could be compromised if a total restriction of aerial applications of these chemicals were put in place.