You have probably heard or read the term “agrochemicals” on some occasion. This word, with such a forceful sound, encompasses a whole series of products that are used daily in the agri-food industry.
If you want to know well what are agrochemicals, what are their types and their useskeep reading this EcologíaVerde article in which we tell you all about these products used in agriculture, and of course in large volume in industrial agriculture.
What are agrochemicals
agrotoxic is the most negative of the words used to define them, since it contains the word “toxic”. They are also called by the terms agrochemical or phytosanitary product. In any of the three cases, its definition is: these are products that have the objective of prevent, combat or destroy the different pestsdiseases or forms of animal or plant life that are harmful to the practice of agriculture or to human health.
Types of agrochemicals
There are different ways of classify agrotoxic or agrochemical productsalthough the most common of their classifications is based on the pest or objective on which they act:
- Herbicides: These pesticides are responsible for eliminating adventitious vegetation, commonly called “weeds”, which compete with the planted species for soil nutrients. For example, here we tell you how to remove weeds from the lawn.
- Insecticides: Insecticides are distinguished according to the stage of development of the insects they attack, which can be the egg, larva or adult stage. There are a large number of different insects that can be harmful to the crop, from worms and aphids to flies.
- Acaricides: As its name indicates, this type of agrochemical is responsible for combating a wide variety of mites, also in various stages of their development.
- Bactericides: Bactericides are one of the most widely used phytosanitary or agrochemicals in many countries, and their function is to eliminate the bacteria present in the soil or crops that cause diseases or low production.
- fungicides: Fungicides are also one of the most widely used agrochemicals in countries like Spain, and they combat fungi that are harmful to plantations. There are immediate and preventive.
There are more types of less common plant protection products, such as attractants and repellents, nematicides, which combat nematodes, molluscicides, which eliminate molluscs such as slugs and snails, and rodenticides, which combat rodent species.
Agrochemicals can also be differentiated according to whether they act immediately, in which case they have a shock action, or if they act in the long term, in which case they have a residual action.
Another classification is its mode of action in the plant. The systemic ones penetrate the plant and become part of it from its sap, thus acting when the harmful agent attacks it. The penetrants remain in the part of the plant where they have been applied, and the contact ones are limited to remaining on the surface where they have been applied, being susceptible to being eliminated by rain or irrigation.
Use of agrochemicals
The actual agri-food industry largely depends on the use of these products, which caused the so-called green revolution in the second half of the 20th century. Its widespread use is not without its advantages and disadvantages, and it is worth mentioning them separately.
Advantages of agrochemicals
The use of agrochemicals triggers the productivity of plantations, which allows maintaining the current model of food production. They increase production, make the product cheaper, delay its deterioration and improve the appearance it offers to the consumer.
Disadvantages of agrochemicals
Agrochemicals have a large number of detractors among environmental organizations due to the risks involved in their use. When proper safety measures are not respected or abused, they can be responsible for soil contamination and water contamination, and can cause serious health risks derived from its improper use. This is especially notable in developing countries or countries in transition, where the lack of sufficient security measures frequently causes serious human and environmental damage.
Currently, there is a confrontation between the environmental movements, which denounce the risks and damages to health that the consumption of products with traces of agrochemicals, and the phytosanitary and pharmaceutical industry, which deny its consequences if the established security measures are respected. Given that scientific studies of this type are very difficult to demonstrate in the short term and there are a large number of economic interests at stake, it is currently very difficult to establish an accurate judgment in this regard.
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