Difference Between Herbicides and Pesticides

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What are Pesticides and Herbicides?

The substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy or mitigate any pest is termed as a pesticide. It is sometimes referred to as insecticides. Even herbicides are also a type of pesticide. The product is often used to control pests and includes plant regulators, defoliants and desiccants. A herbicide is a type of pesticide which is used to kill unwanted plants or weed. Various types of herbicides offer the option to kill certain types of unwanted plants while not harming the crops. They are better used to interfere in the growth of weed and also act as plant hormones.


Effects of Pesticides

Pesticides contain toxic chemicals which are released in the environment. These affect the environment and are also harmful to organisms. The product is meant to kill certain pests, but excessive usage can be disastrous for the crops. When used in large quantities, the pesticides can enter the air, water and even end up in our food.


It can cause impacts such as headaches and nausea. In some cases, it can cause chronic diseases like cancer and is harmful to the reproductive system. The presence of a high amount of chemicals in soil degrades its bio-diversity and quality. It also reduces the land's power of water retention, which affects the growth of plants.


Types of Pesticides

Pesticides can be grouped in many ways. One of the most common pesticide grouping methods is according to the pests they can kill.

  • Bactericides – Bacteria

  • Insecticides – Insects

  • Herbicides – Plants

  • Larvicides – Larvae

  • Rodenticides – Rodents (rats & mice)

  • Fungicides – Fungi

They are also grouped based on their biodegradable quality.

Biodegradable: The pesticides that can be broken down by microbes and other living beings are biodegradable products. They are turned into harmless compounds, which can be absorbed by the soil.


Persistent: The pesticides which are known as persistent ones are also biodegradable, but they tend to take more time to degrade. The time gap is usually months or years for them to degrade completely.


What are Herbicides

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Herbicides are types of pesticides used to kill certain types of pests. It can either be a type of weed or some plant species that can harm the cultivation process. They are designed to kill or control a specific type of pests. Hence, they are limited in their usage. They come in two forms, that is selective and non-selective. We can find their usage in normal farms as well as in industrial areas. Since they are designed to mainly target plants, they are the most widely used pesticides in agriculture.


Selective and Non-Selective Herbicides

Selective herbicides are the most common type of herbicides that are used in the market. They offer control over a specific type of pests, mainly weeds. Each selective herbicide is designed to kill a particular type of weed and cannot be used on other forms of pests. Non-selective herbicides, on the other hand, work on most forms of weed but are often not available as a common choice. Since they target more than one type of species, there is always a debate about them being herbicides. Nonetheless, both the products have wide industrial usages as well as in agricultural areas.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Name Chemical Pesticides Along with Their Effects on the Environment.

Ans: Following are some of the chemical pesticides along with their effects on the environment:

  • Organophosphate: These affect the nervous system by disrupting the enzyme that regulates a neurotransmitter. Hence, it should be used in moderation.

  • Organochlorine Insecticides: These pesticides are removed from various markets by many countries. It is due to their health and environmental effects and also because they are persistent.

  • Carbamate: It also affects the nervous system by disrupting an enzyme that regulates the neurotransmitter. However, the effects are reversible.

  • Pyrethroid: These are derived from a naturally occurring pesticide in such a way as to maximize their stability in the environment.

  • Biopesticides: These biopesticides are derived from natural materials such as animals, plants, and bacteria.

Q2. What are the Benefits of Using Pesticides?

Ans: As the name suggests, Pesticides are the most efficient products to get rid of pests and other species in farming. They offer direct results from their use. They are subtle and offer long term benefits. Some widely used pesticides are biodegradable, help get rid of the weeds and are also efficient for soil. After degrading, they are turned into minerals for soil.


Controlling pests and other species that can cause plant diseases is the most beneficial part of using a pesticide. The harmful organisms that grow around crops degrade their quality and result in diseases for livestock and humans. Though pesticides are often the cause of various diseases due to their excessive usage, biodegradable pesticides are yet the best choice for agriculture when used in moderation.