Soybean rust was first discovered in Brazil during the 2000/01 growing season and since then, the disease has cost Brazilian producers billions of dollars in control cost and lost production.
The Center for Advanced Studies in Applied Economics (Cepea) worked with the National Plant Protection Bureau (Andef) to monitor the evolution of diseases and pests that impacted Brazilian soybean production over a period of three growing seasons – 2014/15, 2015/16, and 2016/17. Their published resulted concluded that pests and diseases can lower production, hurt the seed quality, and under certain conditions kill the plant. Their recommendation was that producers should try to control the diseases and pests chemically, biologically, and nutritionally including using resistant varieties as soon as the problem is identified.
According to researchers, during the 2016/17 growing season, Brazilian producers spent R$ 8.3 billion on fungicides with 96% of the fungicides used for the control of soybean rust. They spent R$ 6.2 billion on insecticide and R$ 4.8 billion on herbicides for a total of R$ 19.3 billion. These chemical costs equated to 16.5% of the total cost of producing soybeans in Brazil in 2016/17.
Cepea modeled what would happen if farmers did not use fungicides to control soybean rust. They concluded that farmers would save R$ 5.75 billion in control costs, but their soybean production would decline by 30%. They estimated that if Brazil’s soybean production declined by 30%, domestic prices would respond favorably, but even with a 23% increase in domestic soybean prices, farmers would still experience approximately a 14% reduction in gross receipts.