A Glimpse Inside the Crop Protection Toolbox

 Plant Health is Paramount 

Much like people monitor their own health, farmers pay close attention to the health of their crops to know when to step in and help. While people measure their blood pressure, monitor their exposure to harmful germs and bacteria, and take medicine when they’re ill, farmers regularly observe their crops for signs of stress, and take prior protective action against possible damages.

Crop protection plays an important role in agricultural production. Every year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as much as 40 percent of the world’s potential harvests are lost to damaging insects, weeds, and plant diseases. And, according to the information of the Ministry of the Environment, Brazil, and the research data in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and India, the economic loss to crops, meadows and forests worldwide due to damaging pests, reach as high as $250 billion each year.

Crop protection has come a long way since Egyptian farmers first used the scarecrow, some 5,000 years ago. And growers are always looking to learn how to be more effective, more precise, and more efficient, which is not easy.

The earlier methods of crop protection that people used in the olden days were often physically demanding, time-consuming and less effective. Over the last century, with the progress in technological development, the crop protection toolbox has grown larger and more effective.

Modern Ag’s Integrated Solutions Provide Efficient and Flexible Crop Protection for Farmers

Throughout the history of agriculture, each new wave of crop protection innovation allowed farmers to be more efficient. Tillage reduced the need for hand weeding. Chemicals reduced the need for tillage. Genetically modified seeds reduced the need for insecticides. Data analytics, combined with precision planting and spraying techniques, has made farmers even more efficient, helping them farm with less of impact on our environment.

Now, while some long-standing methods remain important, the industry has provided an array of advanced chemical, biological, and digital answers to crop protection challenges. Using a combination of tools, farmers are designing the exact solution required for each crop, during each growing season.

As we know, each type of crop protection tool serves a slightly different purpose. When multiple tools are used together, they are more effective. Let’s take a closer look at how four different crop protection tools work on a farm.

♦  Cover Crops: The practice of planting crops in between cash crops, to provide cover for the soil, dates back more than 2,000 years. Today, modern and organic farmers use them to help decrease soil compaction, enhance soil fertility, improve soil moisture retention, and fight pests and weeds.

♦  Advanced Chemistry & Spraying Technology: Chemistry has been a valuable crop protection tool for decades. The most modern innovations, such as the latest chemical solutions, combined with spray nozzles and guidance systems, offer unprecedented levels of precision.
According to the data from Phillips McDougall, the compound annual growth rate of global agrochemical market from 2001 to 2016 increased 5.4%, where the market value increased from $25.8 billion in 2001 up to $56.5 billion in 2016, of which, the most rapid growth lies in the herbicide market.

For farmers, weed control has always been a complicated and difficult job. To help farmers protect their crops from weeds, the industry has made great efforts, and among which, glyphosate has been a breakthrough for farming.

Glyphosate is the first amino acid herbicide, since its introduction in 1974, glyphosate-based products have become a commonly used herbicide for farmers. According to a forecast of Markets & Markets, the market value of glyphosate is expected to reach $9.91 billion by 2022, while its compound annual growth rate may reach 6.32% from 2016 to 2022. This widespread adoption is the result of Glyphosate’s ability to control a broad spectrum of weeds, and its extensive environment benefits and strong safety.

♦  Microbial Seed Treatments: Alongside chemical products, biological products have emerged in recent decades as an ally of the farmer. Microbes—microscopic organisms that occur naturally in soil—have been especially helpful, contributing to nutrient management and crop protection plans.

♦  Predictive Data Analytics: One of the most recent crop protection innovations involves the use of digital tools. As farmers have gathered information about yield and fertility over the past 20 years, they’ve been building a powerful tool: the data itself.

Egyptians, 5,000 years ago, would never believe that humans could use an iPad for crop protection. Modern agriculture provides a series of chemical, biological and digital crop protection solutions to help farmers tackle the challenges in crop protection. Luckily, such a great technology has helped human beings to improve cultivation and efficiency.