Pesticides: what are they, types and use

You have probably heard or read the term “pesticides” on occasion. This word, of such forceful sound, encompasses a whole series of products that are used daily in the agri-food industry.

If you want to know well what pesticides are, what their types and uses are , keep reading this article in which we tell you all about these products used in agriculture, and of course in large volume in industrial agriculture.

What are pesticides

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, their definition is: these are products that have the objective of preventing, combating or destroying different pests , diseases or forms of animal or plant life that are detrimental to the exercise of agriculture or to health of the human being.

Pesticides: what they are, types and use - What are pesticides

Types of pesticides

There are different ways of classifying agro-toxic or agrochemical products , although 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 species planted for the nutrients in the soil. 
  • Insecticides: insecticides are distinguished according to the development phase of the insects they attack, which can be the egg, larval or adult stage. There are a host of different insects that can be detrimental to your crop, from worms and aphids to flies.
  • Acaricides: as their name suggests, these types of agrochemicals are responsible for combating a wide variety of mites, also in various stages of their development.
  • Bactericides: Bactericides are one of the most widely used pesticides or pesticides in many countries, and their function is to eliminate 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 fight fungi that are harmful to plantations. There are them of an immediate and preventive nature.

There are more types of less common phytosanitary products, such as attractants and repellants, nematicides, which fight nematodes, molluscicides, which eliminate mollusks such as slugs and snails, and rodenticides, which fight rodent species.

Agrochemicals can also be differentiated according to whether they act immediately, in which case they are of shock action, or if they act in the long term, in which case they are of 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 pesticides

The current agri-food industry depends largely on the use of these products, which caused the so-called Green Revolution in the second half of the 20th century. Their widespread use is not without advantages or disadvantages, and they should be mentioned separately.

Advantages of pesticides

The use of agrochemicals triggers the productivity of the plantations , which allows maintaining the current model of food production. They increase production, lower the price of the product, delay its deterioration and improve the appearance it offers to the consumer.

Disadvantages of pesticides

The pesticides have a large number of detractors among environmental organizations due to the risks involved in their use. When the proper safety measures are not observed or abused, they can be responsible for the contamination of the soil and the contamination of the water , and can cause serious risks to health derived from their improper use. This is especially notable in developing or transition countries, where the lack of sufficient security measures frequently causes serious human and environmental damage.

Currently, there is a confrontation between the environmental movements, who denounce the risks and damages to health that the consumption of products with traces of pesticides supposes , 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 a correct judgment in this regard.

Pesticides: what they are, types and use - Use of pesticides

Leave a Reply