role of chemistry in agriculture

The beginning of civilised civilization is marked by the onset of agricultural activity. Agricultural development was influenced by factors such as climate change and population growth during the Holocene epoch. The cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals during the “Bronze Age” led to the change of early Homo sapiens from their customary hunting and gathering lifestyle. Finally, humans were able to extend urban-based societies by establishing permanent settlements through agricultural methods.

Chemistry has been at the heart of crop protection and food production techniques for arable farming. Thus, chemistry is an essential component of agriculture, from the molecular to the organ level. It is involved in everything from the fundamentals of photosynthesis to the utilisation of agricultural output.

Chemistry’s involvement in agriculture may be effectively and fully classified as follows:

 

Photosynthesis

This natural process serves as the foundation for all agricultural goods. The net equation best shows the overall process.

6CO2 + 6H2O ==> C6H12O6 + 6O2

Photosynthesis is the most crucial chemical mechanism for life on Earth. Without photosynthesis, not only would there be no plants, but the earth would be incapable of supporting any kind of life.

 

Fertilisers

Fertilisers are basically compounds that are put into the soil to provide one or more nutrients required for plant development. Fertilisers can be organic or inorganic (natural or synthetic). According to a recent study, commercial fertiliser use accounts for 40 to 60 percent of crop yields.

Fertilizers are classified into two types: organic and inorganic. Animal dung, fish and bone meal, and compost are examples of organic fertilisers obtained from living systems. Microorganisms in the soil break down these organic fertilisers, releasing nutrients for plant use. Chemical fertilisers are less complicated and include large quantities of substances that may be scarce in the soil, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur.

The Haber-Bosch process is used to create inorganic fertiliser, which yields ammonia as a byproduct which is used in combination with other nitrogen fertilizers.

 

Pesticides

Chemistry has been effective in producing pesticides that have reduced agricultural damages caused by pesticides. Pesticides might be fungicides, pediculicides, herbicides, biocides, or insecticides, depending on the pest.

These chemicals protect crops from insect and other pest damage. One research found that not applying pesticides lowered agricultural production by around 10%. Yet another research.

 

Storage and preservation of agricultural produce

Sulfur dioxide is used to keep grain fresh and usable for a longer time. Food preservatives such as sodium benzoate and salicylic acid are used to extend the shelf life of foods. Refrigerants of the next generation have been created. Chemicals are used to improve fruit ripening or seed germination. Agricultural chemistry has expanded the diversity of the human diet and enhanced the general supply of food, both animal and plant.

 

Food processing

Consumers have profited from chemistry in terms of the appearance, nutritional content, availability, and tastes of their food due to the discovery of vitamins, minerals, sweeteners, and saccharin.

 

Conclusion

To optimise agricultural and animal product yields, modern agriculture relies largely on scientific discoveries, particularly in chemistry. Fertilizers, insecticides, and antibiotics are all becoming increasingly important in this industry. It gives imaginative new approaches to broaden the frontiers of agriculture and battle possible difficulties, hence enhancing production and product quality.

 

Reference: Role of Chemistry in Agriculture – bfitdoon.com

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