Neonic-Treated Soybeans

Are nenoic-treated soybeans worth the cost?

What the research says:

  • Cost estimates found that traditional IPM was more cost effective than use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds, whether aphid pressure was above or below economics threshold levels.
  • Neonicotinoid-treated seeds are generally not effective against soybean aphid, due to the timing of their emergence. The early growth stage when seed treatments protect plants does not overlap with times when the aphid is problematic (late vegetative and bloom stages).
  • Neonicotinoid seed treatments can harm ground beetles and other pest predators, reducing soybean yield as pests, like slugs, go unchecked by their natural enemies.
  • There are some uncommon scenarios when researchers believe neonicotinoid-treated seed are one potential management option. These include: fields with recently incorporated animal manure, as seed corn maggots prefer rotting organic matter; and when planting a second crop of food grade soybeans, as aphids could migrate from mature plants to younger plants.
  • PFI’s on-farm research trials in 2014 and 2015 showed there was no measured effect of neonicotinoid seed treatment on soybean yield. Neonicotinoid seed treatments on these farms cost $10-$15/acre.

What the farmers say:

Dick sloan in front of a field of wheat

“I don’t think there is any new reason to use neonics in soybeans since I helped research this on my farm in 2014 and 2015. Why spend $10 to $15/acre for no return on investment? If a farmer can’t scout his own fields to use IPM, they can hire it done for less than $5/acre and learn a whole lot more than spending that money on expensive seed treatments.” – Dick Sloan, Rowley, IA


Tony Colosimo and Nathan Anderson at a field day“We have neonic treatments on some seed production soybeans that we grow as it is required by the production agreement, but leave it off the rest as we can scout and use IPM to manage our fields in the growing season.” – Nathan Anderson, Aurelia, IA


Wade Dooley Interview for cover crop research video“I quit getting neonic treated beans last year. Just get the beans inoculated now, no other treatments. Haven’t seen a difference in yield, just in seed cost. Saved a few bucks per bag.” – Wade Dooley, Albion, IA

“I was VERY lucky…. Maybe so. We had a dry April – June. Be that as it may. Record yields. Period. No treatment.” – Greg Rebman, Frederick, IL

For more information:

Are your beans treated with a neonicotinoid? Check for these chemicals: Clothianidin, Imidacloprid or Thiamethoxam

The Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments in Soybeans

Making Decisions about Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment Use in Iowa. 

More information about government incentive programs or ask your local NRCS office about E595116Z2: Reducing routine neonicotinoid seed treatments on corn and soybean crops.

PFI resources on Neonics:

 FARMINAR: Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments: Are They Necessary?

Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments and Pollinator Issues–a companion piece