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Introduction to Agrochemicals

Agrochemicals are chemical products composed of fertilisers, plant-protection chemicals or pesticides, and plant-growth hormones used in agriculture. It's a substance that's used for the operation of an agricultural ecosystem. Agrochemicals include herbicides, pesticides, liming and acidifying agents (which are designed to change the pH), soil conditioners, fungicides and chemicals used in the procuring livestock like antibiotics and hormones.

The use of agrochemicals has become a priority for raising crops. Thus, the use of agrochemicals is a prominent and important part of modern husbandry. Due to extensive agricultural practices on large farms, the challenges to keep the crops free of damage have increased on a priority basis.

What are Agrochemicals?

Agrochemicals are any compound utilised in agriculture including synthetic composts, herbicides, and insect sprays. Most are combinations of at least two synthetic compounds; active mixtures give the desired impacts, and inert ingredients protect the active mixture or help in application.

Along with other innovative advances, including farming tools, machinery and good water systems, agrochemicals have expanded the per-section of land efficiency of areas. Their drawn out consequences for the climate and the security of agrarian frameworks that utilise them are controversial.

Agrochemicals were introduced to protect crops from pests and upgrade crop yields. The most widely recognized agrochemicals are pesticides and composts. Chemical fertilisers in the 1960s were responsible for the beginning of the "Green Revolution", where utilising the same surface of land with incorporated water systems and mineral manures like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium has enormously increased the crop yield.

Types of Agrochemicals

Lets us discuss about the types of agrochemicals:

  1. Crop Protector

  2. Soil Supplements

  3. Plant Supplements

  1. Crop Protector: It mainly includes Pesticides. These are the chemicals chick checks the pests from crops.In general, a pesticide could be a chemical or a biological substance like a deadly disease, bacterium, antimicrobial, or disinfectant that deters incapacitates or kills pests. This use of pesticides is therefore treated as substitutable with plant protection. There are many types of pesticides like Herbicides (chemicals used to kill weeds), Insecticides ( chemicals used to kill insects), rodenticides (chemicals used to kill rodents) or Fungicides (chemicals used to kill fungus). Examples of chemical pesticides are glyphosate, Acephate, Deet, Propoxur, Metaldehyde, Boric Acid, Diazinon, Dursban, DDT, Malathion, etc.

  2. Soil Supplements: It mainly includes fertilisers and manures which improves soil quality.

  1. Fertilisers are chemical or natural substances which make soil fertile and increase its yield. They can be plant nutrient specific. Most of the fertilisers contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in combination or are used singly.

  2. Manures are the natural and biodegradable substances which are produced by dead and decaying or fermenting natural materials like cow dung, vegetable peels, hay etc. they are not nutrient specific but replenishes overall soil nutrients. They are good for the environment too.

  1. Plant Supplements: In order to enhance plant growth, fruits ripening and disease resistance some naturally occuring chemicals are given which are rich in micro and macro nutrients required by plants these are called as plant supplements. They may contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulphur. They assist the production of new cells that then organise into plant tissues. Deficiency of these nutrients, growth and survival wouldn't occur.

Role of Agrochemicals in Agriculture

Benefits of Agrochemicals

  • Agrochemicals enable farmers to yield more crops from per acre of land for a longer period. As they protect crops from pests, disease and weeds ensuring good harvest.

  • It has environmental benefits too as less area can produce huge yields therefore the rate of deforestation is reduced. The sterility of land is also maintained.

  • It will be economically beneficial too. There will be a reduction in cost of food and other stuff due to very good yields.

  • It will be healthy to be consumed by consumers as the crops will be free from diseases, fungal, bacterial or viral infections. Percentage of contamination will be reduced.

  • It can lessen the working hours of farmers on agricultural fields and they can get involved in other works too.

Agrochemicals and Their Effects

Agrochemical Pollution and its Management

Further we are going to learn about the adverse effect of using agrochemicals on our environment. They can affect soil, water, air and human health in various ways.

  • Effect on Soil: For food we depend on plants and to take care of them we introduce these agrochemicals which may harm us too. The remnants of these chemicals can be absorbed by the soil making it unfit for growing crops, can contaminate the crops after being absorbed by the roots and makes the soil infertile. The water logging from these lands can spread the water pollution too.

  • Effect on Air: When these pesticides or fertilisers are sprayed in fields they get suspended and are carried away by the winds this can degrade the quality of air and can affect our health if inhaled.

  • Effect on Water: When these chemicals are sprayed they are washed deep down with rainwater in the ground. This gets mixed with underground water making it unfit for drinking. Also field water runoffs during rains drains into rivers and lakes and pollute them too.

  • Effect on Human Health: Due to pollution of air, water and soil from agrochemicals tend to enter our bodies and can make us ill. They can cause many serious health issues like cancer, respiratory issues or skin problems.’

How to Reduce These Effects?

Adapt the use of crop protection. It is the science and practice of managing pests, plant diseases, and weeds that harm agricultural crops. Crop rotation prevents the carryover of pests, pathogens and weed population. Intercropping and use of selection mixtures limits the pests and diseases and provides protection to crops.

Timely shallow tillage reduces weed population and at a similar time improves nutrient provide of the crop.

Don't apply pesticides in terribly windy conditions, at dry conditions, at terribly low or high temperatures or when rain is forecast. Spray only if conditions are favourable.

Interesting Facts

  • Syngenta is the largest producer of agrochemicals in the world.

  • Any agrochemical product with 10 percent of the active ingredient might belong to a lower toxicity class than another product with 25 percent of the same active ingredient.

Important Questions

1. How can aquifers be protected from the harmful effects of agrochemicals ?

Ans: Use of agrochemicals are beneficial for crop yield but it affects the environment and causes many types of pollution. It percolates down with water to underground water and aquifers. Aquifers are water resided in permeable rocks. To avoid this contamination we should use less translocalable and less persistent agro-chemicals. Secondly, the mode of application will preferably be not using flooding to apply such chemicals. Care should be taken while draining the waste water from fields.

2. What are botanical insecticides?

Ans: Botanical insecticides are toxins for insect pests derived from plants. They are broad spectrum in action and quickly work on the respective insect pest. It is not viable in the environment for a long period of time and also not that harmful for the environment too. Some examples for these types of insecticides are:Neem oil reduces proliferation of insects and pests, Pyrethrum, an extract of Chrysanthemum species decomposes rapidly in the environment ,Pheromone dispensers can be used to control mating of pests. Traps like sticky coloured boards and light traps to catch insect pests.

Practise Questions

1. The most earliest employed pesticide by human was

  1. Nicotine

  2. Neem extract

  3. DDT

2. Agricultural chemicals are

  1. manures and fertilizers only

  2. pesticides and insecticides only

  3. pesticides, manures, growth hormones, fertilisers


  1. b

  2. C

Key Features

  • Agricultural chemicals or agrochemicals are used to help in growing crops, enhance nutrient intake and raise livestock.

  • Agrochemicals are important in supporting agriculture by enhancing yield and protecting the plants and fields.

  • In this article we also understood a clear study of agrochemical effects in the environment. Agrochemicals enable farmers to yield more crops from per acre of land for a longer period. As they protect crops from pests, disease and weeds ensuring good harvest.

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FAQs on Agrochemicals

1. Explain the effects of agrochemicals on the environment?

Agrochemicals like pesticides, fertilisers, insecticide, fungicides, weedicides, etc.  destroy the ecosystem of the soil. Fertilisers cause soil deterioration through decrease of natural microflora. Leaching down of these chemicals causes pollution of underground water. Salts of different compounds used for in crop plants may prove harmful eg. Nitrate rich leaves, fruit and water produce nitrate in the Alimentary Canal that enters blood, combines with Hb to form met-haemoglobin and reduces oxygen transport. It may prove fatal.

2. What do you mean by integrated pest management?

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimises economic, health and environmental risks. IPM emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agricultural ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms. It aims towards sustainable biological, physical and other non-chemical methods that must be preferred to provide satisfactory pest control.

3. What is the difference between insecticides and pesticides?

Pest is any living organism as it comprises  many organisms like insect-pest, disease causing organisms like bacteria, fungi, virus etc responsible for crop damage. Chemicals used for killing them are called pesticides. while insecticides  are chemicals which have a cidal effect on insect pests only. They can control the insect attacking the crop. Also we can say that  pesticides include insecticide, fungicide, algaecides etc.

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