Researchers studying neonicotinoid insecticides and their levels in soil, water and air in fields around Ontario will be discussing their work at the University ofGuelph Ridgetown Campus on Thursday.
The event is part of Southwest Crop Diagnostic Days, an annual gathering that brings together U of G, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), members of the agricultural industry and other stakeholders for training and discussions.
Researchers will be conducting demonstrations of the equipment and tools used in their work.
They will also provide preliminary findings of a study currently underway that shows significant reductions in the level of neonic-contaminated dust leaving target fields, and identifies key sites and levels of neonicotinoid exposure for bees and other creatures in the agri-ecosystem dominated by corn production.
The study also involves evaluating and developing best management practices, and determining the economic impact of neonics on corn production.
Plant agriculture professor Art Schaafsma is heading the project. He says neonicotinoid insecticides have come under increasing scrutiny for their potential unintended effects in the environment. “The debate is highly polarized even amongst academics,” he says.
“The agricultural industry and scientific community have taken this issue seriously and are working hard to understand the risks to help regulators make informed decisions,” Schaafsma adds.
OMAFRA recently committed new funding to support the research. Combined with earlier support from the ministry, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Crop Life Canada and the Corn Dust Research Coalition, the total investment for the project is more than $2 million.