Agrochemicals and their Effects on the Environment


They are the generic name given to chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Agrochemicals, as the name suggests, are used in agriculture to facilitate plant growth and protection. They are also called agricultural chemicals.

These chemicals were initially used to improve crop production,  however, their overuse has now affected the environment. Agrochemicals seep into the surrounding land and water bodies, entering the food chain which leads to bioaccumulation.

Regarding their impact on crops, excessive use of such chemicals generates a significant amount of residues. These residues cause nutrient imbalance and quality-reduction of agricultural produce. Consumption of these residues has been linked to various illnesses. For example, pesticide residues in food can increase the risk of asthma in humans.

Effect on Soil

  • They may kill bacteria and other organisms beneficial to the soil
  • Increase nitrate content in the soil
  • Alter pH levels
  • Unnatural growth effects
  • Residual effects
  • Can bioaccumulate; thereby entering the food chain

Effect on Water

  • Make water unfit for consumption.
  • Agrochemicals in water diffuse with larger water bodies to promote the growth of algae – which can cause organisms such as fish to die. (This phenomenon is widely called Fish kills)
  • Excess chemicals lead to eutrophication.
  • Leads to water pollution.
  • Alters the chemical properties of water.

Read More: Eutrophication.

Effect on Air

  • Pesticide particles diffuse with air, altering their composition.
  • Winds disperse polluted air across large areas, spreading their ill effects.
  • Increases risk of respiratory illnesses.

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