Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments: Limitations and Compatibility with Integrated Pest Management

John F. Tooker, Margaret R. Douglas, Christian H. Krupke

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Core Ideas: Recent educational offerings incompletely addressed neonicotinoid seed coatings. These insecticidal coatings are common on corn, soybean, and other crop seeds. Current use patterns violate core principles of integrated pest management. We present an overview of these products, focusing on some key limitations. Deploying neonicotinoids more judiciously will reduce their negative side effects. Educational materials guiding the use of pesticides are often sponsored or co-created by pesticide manufacturers, raising potential conflicts of interest. For example, early in 2017, two registrant-sponsored webinars from the American Society of Agronomy addressed benefits of neonicotinoid seed coatings, which are routinely applied to seeds of many field crops. While these products can protect yield in certain situations, they also carry significant limitations; unfortunately, these presentations avoided such downsides. Here, we provide an overview of key limitations of neonicotinoid seed treatments (NST). First, we address Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and how current use of NST violates its key principles and ignores lessons learned. Second, we address inconsistent yield responses, resistance concerns, and nontarget effects. Third, we return to IPM to discuss how this proven framework can be used to more effectively guide and steward NST to avoid mounting reports of negative side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalAgricultural and Environmental Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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