More farmers are planting their corn refuge, according to results from an online survey and on-farm refuge assessments tied to the Enhanced Compliance Assurance Program.
The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, which facilitates the Compliance Assurance Program, is a consortium of seed corn companies that sell Bt corn hybrids. The consortium then submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits.
On-farm assessments, surveys improve insect management
In 2011, ABSTC launched a new on-farm assessment program that focuses more assessments on growers who may not have purchased sufficient refuge seed according to their purchase records.
"The on-farm assessment process has proven to be an effective mechanism to identify Bt corn growers who are not following refuge requirements and provide assistance so that they can achieve compliance. The vast majority of growers found out of compliance in 2011 were found to be complying with the Insect Resistance Management requirements during the 2012 season," said Mike Smith, ABSTC IRM subcommittee co-chairman.
In addition to on-farm assessments, an anonymous IRM grower survey was conducted. Highlights of the survey indicate a decrease in the%age of growers not planting any refuge acres and strong adoption of integrated refuge products, which include Bt and refuge seed interspersed in a single bag or seed box.
Compliance program continues to be effective
In 2012, the majority of growers surveyed planted the required refuge size on their farms and the majority of growers surveyed planted a refuge within the required distance for all of their Bt corn fields.
Furthermore, the survey indicates that the percentage of growers not planting any refuge acres has declined from 16% in 2011 to less than 10% in 2012.
"We are pleased to see that the number of corn growers not planting a refuge declined last season," said Nick Storer, ABSTC steering team member. "We will continue to focus our education efforts in areas of highest risk of insect pest resistance development in the Corn Belt, as well as the cotton growing area, where IRM continues to be important."
The 2012 survey was the first year integrated refuge products were included, and 50% of growers indicated they planted an integrated refuge product on their farm. ABSTC projects that the adoption of integrated products will continue to increase, contributing to the overall increase in compliance, which helps preserve Bt corn technology durability.