Turf and ornamental pesticides

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 875 active ingredients currently are registered for use as "conventional" pesticides--herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and other "-cides" that were developed and are primarily used for controlling pests.1

However, only a small proportion of the total number of EPA-registered pesticide active ingredients have home or landscape-related uses. Pesticides for commercial turf and ornamental use (see Table 1) account for nearly 150 active ingredients, while 86 active ingredients comprise nearly all home and garden (retail) pesticides currently available. The majority of these also are sold to the professional market, so the total number of active ingredients available for all turf and ornamental use, including home and garden products, is just 178.

Although the number of active ingredients for the turf and ornamental market has not changed dramatically in the past several years, increasingly stringent reregistration standards may soon force some manufacturers to drop support of certain existing products. However, in part due to increased focus on biorational or "reduced-risk" pesticides, EPA continues to grant registration to a significant number of new active ingredients. In 1996, EPA registered 22 new active ingredients, many of them reduced-risk products.2 Three of them have turf or ornamental registration: Myrothecium verrucaria (Abbott's DiTera-T), mefanoxam (Novartis' successor to metalaxyl) and fipronil (Rhone Poulenc's Chipco Choice). Significant new registrations also were granted in 1997, such as spinosad (Dow's Conserve) and halofenozide (RohMid's Mach 2). Four of these five products are EPA-designated reduced-risk materials.

In terms of dollar volume of pesticide sales, most trends have been upward for several years (see Table 2). This applies to overall pesticide sales as well as turf and ornamental products specifically. U.S. turf-pesticide sales account for an increasing (though still relatively small) proportion of overall U.S. pesticide sales, up from 3.17 percent in 1993 to 3.67 percent in 1996.3 This is due to annual market growth estimated at between 5 and 8 percent for turf pesticides and fertilizers (commercial- and homeowner-applied products combined). Annual product sales currently exceed $1.5 billion in these markets.4 Conversely,nursery and ornamental pesticide sales have gradually dropped as a proportion of overall pesticide sales, from 1.23 percent in 1993 to 0.90 percent in 1996.3 Home and garden product sales have fluctuated but remain strong.

Worldwide, pesticide sales are expected to trend upward with modest gains for the foreseeable future.5 This is due to continuing agricultural growth in developing nations and greater use of herbicide-resistant crops. The latter has not yet become a factor in the turf industry but is expected to eventually do so when manufacturers release herbicide-resistant turfgrass varieties currently in development.

In the professional market (turf, nursery and ornamentals), herbicide sales (in dollars) total higher than fungicides and insecticides (see Table 3). However, insecticide sales predominate in the home and garden market.3 Worldwide, herbicides account for about 48 percent of total pesticide sales, insecticides 28 percent and fungicides 19 percent.6

1 EPA, Office of Pesticide Programs report: Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage: 1994 and 1995 Market Estimates, by Dr. Arnold L. Aspelin. 2 EPA, Office of Pesticide Programs report: FY 1996 Accomplishments: Facts and Figures. 3 American Crop Protection Association (Washington, D.C.). 4 EPA, Office of Pesticide Programs report: OPTS Issue Update, April 30, 1991: Lawn Care Pesticides. 5 Freedonia Group Inc. (Cleveland, Ohio). 6 Pesticide Action Network Update Service (San Francisco), PANUPS, August 29, 1997.

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