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The Consequences of Agricultural Chemical Trespass into Illinois Ecosystems

2024 Forestry Stewardship Series
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What happens when a pesticide doesn't stay where it's put? 

The landscape of Illinois has been devoted primarily to agriculture for more than 100 years. Agricultural intensification has led to an increased use of synthetic pesticides to manage field crop weeds, which can move into natural ecosystems and negatively impact non-target plants. In 2023, the Illinois Natural History Survey sampled nearly 200 naturally vegetated areas across the state to understand how much chemical pesticide plants are exposed to and how often. At least one pesticide was found at 97% of the sites, along with visual evidence of herbicide damage. The results of this study indicate that pesticides are regularly crossing into unintended areas that are near row crops. Illinois Natural History Survey researcher T.J. Benson will share the results of this study, including the negative impact on trees such as oaks, redbuds, and box elders. 

Presenter: T.J. Benson, Illinois Natural History Survey

About the Forestry Stewardship Series

Illinois has 4.8 million acres of forest land. From shading homes and feeding wildlife to producing oxygen and filtering water, trees do a lot of heavy lifting. Give them a hand by discovering innovative, research-based management options in the summer Forestry Stewardship Series. Discover how to restore woodlands, learn about research about the impact of agricultural pesticides, explore the legal protections for Illinois’ natural areas, and get solutions to managing woody invasive plants and white-tailed deer.

Sessions in this five-part Forestry Stewardship Series are free and available from 2 to 3 p.m. CT on Wednesdays from July 31 to August 28.

This program is open to forestry professionals, landowners and managers, and the public. International Society of Arboriculture continuing education credits may be available.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact