Renewable Options: Agrochemicals Can Be Environmentally Friendly

Petrochemical-based solvents are typically used to disperse agrochemicals, but there’s growing interest in developing alternatives that are safe for both the environment and farmers.
Image source: Flickr CC user USDAgov

A growing global population means increased demand for food. An increased demand for food means a need for higher crop production. As a result, the commercial agricultural industry will likely be searching for ways to boost crop yields. The main way in which the industry has done this is through the use of agrochemicals, which is a broad category of specialty chemicals that range from pesticides to fertilizers.

A recent market study predicts that the global agrochemical market is estimated to reach $261.9 billion by 2019. But while opportunities abound, concerns about safety and risks remain. From accidental water contamination to colony collapse disorder, people worry about environmental impact.

Renewable Alternatives to Current Agricultural Processes

This type of worry can be a good thing, however, because it drives innovation. With present-day social awareness of our collective effect upon the environment, researchers are looking for ways to make agrochemicals eco-friendly.

Recent developments from chemical engineers in the U.K. and Spain address this. Agrochemicals are traditionally dispersed in petrochemical-based solvents. But given the push toward renewable resources, there’s been interest in using solvents that break down in the environment faster and pose fewer risks to farmers. A European research team created an eco-friendly plant-derived emulsion that can be used to produce agricultural chemicals.

The emulsion itself is a mix of two biosolvents: one derived from natural fatty acids and the other originating from citrus rind. In addition, the mixture is stabilized by chemical compounds obtained from cocoa oil. There’s nothing synthetic to see here! We can only hope this biosolvent emulsion and others like it prove both viable and successful for the agricultural industry.

Present-day Strategies for Agricultural Firms to Remain Eco-Friendly

While other companies look into ways to develop biosolvents for a variety of uses, the agricultural industry can adopt various environmentally friendly strategies now.

  • Keep informed of chemical regulations: I realize this can be easier said than done. Depending on your locality, you might have to contend with numerous agencies and ordinances when it comes to your agrochemical inventory. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep abreast of environmental requirements since they can change at any time. “I didn’t know” is hardly a valid excuse when it comes to noncompliance!
  • Stay aware of best practices and safe disposal procedures: Chemicals should come with safety data sheets. These guides contain lots of crucial information including safety handling and disposal procedures. The best way to minimize risks to farmers is educate them about how to apply agrochemicals safely. The safety data sheets detail proper protective equipment to wear during handling as well as outline potential health hazards. When it comes to disposal, they also cover the correct protocols to follow to prevent soil and water contamination.
  • Use a digital chemical management system: Chemical inventory software can track the various pesticides and herbicides used by agricultural firms and commercial farmers. But using a chemical management system offers benefits beyond simply taking inventory. For example, safety data sheets are traditionally stored in a paper binder that’s often left forgotten and untouched on a shelf. Digital chemical management software allows users to store digital copies that are linked to inventory. This means that commercial farmers can access important information with the touch of a finger rather than searching through a binder. Even better, users can generate reports based off details garnered from their chemical inventory. They can then determine their compliance standards based off these findings.

While the push for renewable and eco-friendly agrochemicals is a good one, it will probably take a few years for viable and successful alternatives to arrive. This doesn’t mean agricultural firms can’t utilize strategies that will minimize the impact on the environment as well as keep commercial farmers safe now, however. After all, while feeding the world’s population is important, so is ensuring the environmental health of the land we grow our crops on.

Interested in discovering how a chemical management system can help your firm’s eco-friendly policies by aiding in regulatory compliance, safety handling, and disposal procedures? Contact us today to learn more about BIOVIA CISPro.

6 thoughts on “Renewable Options: Agrochemicals Can Be Environmentally Friendly

  1. Not only should farmers know what chemicals they are using, consumers should be aware of what chemicals are used as well. It should be totally transparent from farm to table.

  2. This is a good read, more people need to realize the effects that our technology or luxurious ways of life can have on the environment. Bio degradable fertilizers are very important and should be studied along side GMO’s.

  3. The two biosolvents sound like a novel approach to emulsions, especially because it is a natural formula. Typical formulas are synthetic, which creates a danger to the environment and the people who may come in contact with the emulsion.

  4. Tom, I really like the idea of biodegradable fertilizers. Growing healthy crops that can feed many people is important, but we should minimize our footprint as much as possible.

  5. Erica, I think using biosolvents for agrochemicals is a great idea. Hopefully, it’ll prove fruitful.

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