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How precision technology and pesticides help farmers

The Important Tool All Farmers Need

Imagine driving through the Midwest or the Great Plains, through the many fields that grow a substantial amount of the world’s grain. Corn plants stand tall and proud, soybeans look lush and green, and golden wheat seems to shine. 

It’s tempting to think those plants are easy to grow—almost capable of sustaining themselves. However, those external signs of health are actually indicators of how hard farmers work to protect them. In reality, crops are quite fragile, and helping them survive from seed to harvest involves dozens of decisions and a vast array of tools.

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It’s tempting to think those plants are easy to grow—almost capable of sustaining themselves. However, those external signs of health are actually indicators of how hard farmers work to protect them. In reality, crops are quite fragile, and helping them survive from seed to harvest involves dozens of decisions and a vast array of tools.

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Throughout their life cycle, grain crops like those mentioned above are incredibly vulnerable to threats from insects, weeds, and diseases. Farmers are responsible for safeguarding crops from the many elements that could compromise them, requiring considerable time, attention and resources.

Every year, as much as 40 percent of global crops are lost to damage from weeds, harmful insects, and diseases. Without crop protection, these losses could double.
Source: United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization
[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="breaker 1" img="3041" image-filename="breaker_1-2.jpg" id="content_bn4nd3nin" post_id="1954"] <h5 style="max-width:800px; margin:0 auto"><span style="color:#FFFFFF;">Every year, as much as 40 percent of global crops are lost to damage from weeds, harmful insects, and diseases. Without crop protection, these losses could double.</span></h5><div class="caption">Source: United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization</div> [/ce_article_full_width_photo]

The Dedication of Crop Protection

From the moment they plant seeds, all the way through harvest, farmers feel responsible for the well-being of their crops. They plan extensively, they worry often, they provide regular nourishment, and when necessary, they protect their crops in the most precise manner possible.

[unex_ce_indent_outdent_images layer-name="section 2a" headline_markup="" img="3042" image-filename="17-MONPA-01006_image_1_rev3.jpg" image_caption="" image_caption_color="white" id="content_8zozkncmr" post_id="1954"] <h4>The Dedication of Crop Protection</h4><p><span style="color:#5F5E65;">From the moment they plant seeds, all the way through harvest, farmers feel responsible for the well-being of their crops. They plan extensively, they worry often, they provide regular nourishment, and when necessary, they protect their crops in the most precise manner possible. </span><br /> </p> [/ce_indent_outdent_images]

Enter crop protection, the collection of technologies and practices used by farmers to shield their crops from danger. Farmers and others in modern agriculture use the phrase “crop protection toolbox” to describe this mix of solutions.

Dependable and Valuable

The word “pesticide” can seem cold and clinical to the general public, but to a farmer, it represents a tool that can mean the difference between a healthy harvest and a devastated field. 

Conversations about the use of these tools in agriculture often suggest there are only two options to choose from: using pesticides1 or not using them. In fact, nearly all crops benefit from the use of pesticides. 
 

In every region, for nearly every crop, and within every type of farming—modern agriculture, organic agriculture, or otherwise—pesticides help farmers protect their crops. 

Familiar Practice, Evolving Methods

While pesticides are nothing new—Sumerian farmers used them 4,500 years ago—one thing that is relatively new is the collection of innovations that help farmers use them in new ways. Analytics, digital tools, and agronomic practices inform farmers decisions on what to use in their fields, and how to use them. Although experience and instinct remain essential, crop protection is increasingly becoming more data-driven.

[unex_ce_indent_outdent_images layer-name="section 2d" headline_markup="" img="3043" image-filename="17-MONPA-01006_image_1_rev2-1.jpg" image_caption="" image_caption_color="white" id="content_9tptzn3sg" post_id="1954"] <h4>Familiar Practice, Evolving Methods </h4><p style="color:#5f5e65">While pesticides are nothing new—Sumerian farmers <a target="_blank" href="http://agrochemicals.iupac.org/index.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=sobi2Details&catid=3&sobi2Id=31">used them 4,500 years ago</a>—one thing that is relatively new is the collection of innovations that help farmers use them in new ways. Analytics, digital tools, and agronomic practices inform farmers decisions on what to use in their fields, and how to use them. Although experience and instinct remain essential, crop protection is increasingly becoming more data-driven. <br /> </p> [/ce_indent_outdent_images]

Farmers understand that pesticides are necessary and, in recent years, many have added new options to their crop protection toolbox. Thanks to the innovations of modern agriculture, these new tools include precision applicators, advanced spray nozzles, and data analytics—all of which help farmers use pesticides in the most efficient manner possible. 

Sulfur has been used as a pesticide for the past 5,000 years. It remains an important fungicide for grape growers who face problems with powdery mildew. It is also among the most widely used organic pesticides, specifically for fighting fungi and mites.
[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="breaker 2" img="3044" image-filename="breaker_2-2.jpg" id="content_u2fpgpn7o" post_id="1954"] <h5 style="max-width:900px; margin:0 auto"><span style="color:#FFFFFF;">Sulfur has been used as a pesticide for the past 5,000 years. It remains an important fungicide for grape growers who face problems with powdery mildew. It is also among the most widely used organic pesticides, specifically for fighting fungi and mites. </span></h5> [/ce_article_full_width_photo]

How Does New Technology Help?

These tools, are used in combination with traditional resources and, help in a variety of ways. First, agronomic methods like crop rotation, cover crops, and row spacing can reduce pressure from insects, weeds, and diseases. These decisions can also help increase yield without expanding the physical footprint of a farm.

Second, precision technology and data analytics help farmers determine what their crops need, the best time to spray, and how much to apply to crops that don’t experience pressures in a uniform manner. Variability within fields means that when farmers do need to apply crop protection products, different parts of the field require different quantities. New tools enable farmers to minimize resources while maximizing protection.

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Second, precision technology and data analytics help farmers determine what their crops need, the best time to spray, and how much to apply to crops that don’t experience pressures in a uniform manner. Variability within fields means that when farmers do need to apply crop protection products, different parts of the field require different quantities. New tools enable farmers to minimize resources while maximizing protection.

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A third way the technology of modern agriculture helps is with resource conservation. Applying crop protection products uses fuel, takes time, and costs money. These are three resources farmers have a vested interest in conserving. By optimizing the use of pesticides with strategic precision, farmers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making fewer tractor passes in their fields.

Benefits For All

All types of agriculture depend on pesticides. Modern agriculture uses them in a way that helps provide benefits to nearly everyone. Consumers benefit by receiving a wide variety of healthy, affordable food options. The planet benefits by experiencing less demand for its natural resources. And farmers benefit by saving time and money. 

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