Rise in world population increases the human needs such as good quality food and other products which mainly depend on agriculture. To protect agricultural crops from pests, weeds or diseases, chemical pesticides are being used which affect the natural growth of crops and its nutrient value. It also has adverse effects on the environment.
In order to overcome this problem, Agricultural biologicals are developed. Agricultural Biologicals are beneficial production and protection tools. It complements traditional crop protection and management systems by using nature’s own defenses to safeguard plants against pests and improve crop yield and prevent diseases. Biologicals are going to be an important part of modern agriculture practices.
Such use of technology advancements in development of green solutions to support farmers, reduce use of chemical pesticides and maintain a healthy environment.
What Are Agricultural Biologicals?
Agricultural biologicals are one of the fastest growing segments in the agriculture sector. Agricultural biologicals can be defined as a group of products derived from naturally occurring microorganisms, plant extract, and other organic matter. It provides a sustainable green approach for production of enough food and fuel to fulfill increasing global requirements.
Such biologicals need to pass stringent registration and science based risk assessment to make sure they are safe for humans and the environment. They are expected to match the performance of chemical crop protection products particularly when pest and disease pressure is low to moderate.
Types of Agricultural Biologicals
Agricultural biologicals are divided into three major categories depending on their use in the agriculture field. These types are as discussed below.
- Agricultural Biostimulants - These are biologically derived fertilizers additives and similar products that are used in crop production to supplement and enrich crop inputs. Biostimulants help to improve nutrient use efficiency. It enhances plant tolerance towards abiotic stresses such as heat, cold, drought or too much water. This also helps to improve crop’s quality attributes which includes nutritional content, appearance and shelf life.
- Agricultural Biopesticides - This type of pesticides is derived from natural materials such as plants, animals, bacteria and certain minerals. Biopesticides help to control pests by a non-toxic mechanism which enhances the crop quality and reduces effects of excess chemicals. Certain types of biopesticides, for example microbial pesticides, it consists of microorganisms as active ingredients and are used for specified target pests.
- Agricultural Biofertilizers - These are microorganisms that stimulate natural processes in plants and near its roots to increase the nutrient uptake of crops. Biofertilizers provide similar benefits as bio stimulants, except it includes live microbes in the process. Biofertilizers are considered to be feasible biotechnology alternatives to improve and restore soil fertility and reduce impact of chemical based fertilizers on the environment.
Benefits of Agricultural Biologicals
Biologicals offer protection against a wide variety of plant diseases, insect pests and weeds. It also provides many other benefits and some of the key benefits of agricultural biologicals are as follows.
- Biologicals are an essential tool in order to provide sustainable farming practices. They are a functional component to an effective integrated pest management system and contribute to environmentally responsible agricultural production systems.
- It helps farmers to deliver healthy and affordable food products by improving crop yield and quality. Biologics also help with resistance management with its different modes of actions. This results in increased yield and farm profitability.
- Biologicals provide convenience and flexibility in spray timing due to short re-entry and pre-harvest intervals.
- It also helps in residue management. As biologicals rapidly degrade and do not linger in the environment, it reduces the possible harmful risk of pesticide exposure to humans and the environment.
- Agricultural practices like integrated pest management strategy which combines biological, chemical and genetic crop protection products will utilize multiple modes of action and provide a better approach towards resistance management.
Initiatives toward environment safety and advancements in technology will boost biotechnology companies to invest and focus on research and development to provide better agricultural biologicals. Global acceptance of such nature-friendly solutions in the agriculture sector will help the biologicals industry to expand in future.