As Technology Improves, Crop Protection Continues to Face Challenges

Maintaining the status quo simply isn’t good enough. As the old saying goes, “If you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards.” Fortunately, the crop inputs industry has done a phenomenal job of moving forward. As Howard Minigh, president and CEO of CropLife International put it in this article, “there has been a 95% reduction in the application rate of a pesticide per hectare since 1950, meaning farmers need to apply a lower dose of active ingredient to achieve the same efficacy.”

I think we’d be hard pressed to find another industry that has had such dramatic change in the past half century. And the industry continues to innovate by adopting biological products that further mitigate the need for traditional chemicals.

Advertisement

There is still ample opportunity for innovation and challenges. The products continue to get better – the industry invest $3 billion annually on new technology, Minigh says. The immediate challenge however is access to all this new technology. Invasive pests continue to spread despite solutions that could easily treat them. The problems are many – regulations often make it difficult to get new solutions approved. The European regulatory environment, most notably, has made it particularly difficult for growers to access the tools that have been available for decades.

Environmental activists often deliver confusing messages that make acquiring new (or even old) technology more challenging. In many parts of the world the infrastructure to even deliver the solutions is lacking. The industry must figure out a way to educate both governments and growers and deliver these solutions to a wider audience.

The next decade for the crop inputs industry should prove most interesting. The tools available to growers will continue to improve. Their impact on the environment will continue to decrease as solutions become more targeted. Yet the regulatory agencies and activists will likely continue to pressure the industry.

It’s going to be an interesting decade.