Pesticides and Herbicides

By Gary and Ricky

A Brief History of the Use of Pesticides in Farming

Pesticide use became very popular in farming after World War II. The first pesticides ever used were highly toxic chemicals like arsenic and hydrogen cyanide. These chemicals were quickly abandoned and replaced by synthetic compounds that contained carbon hence the name organic pesticides.

DDT was the first second generation pesticide which was widely used in 1939. It was discovered by a Swiss chemist named Paul Muller. DDT was highly toxic to a wide range of insects but was minimally harmful to mammals like us.

But this was also banned in the U.S. because it was bad for the environment. The pesticide run off caused ecosystems to be poisoned and a lot of fish, crab and river life died. It also affected the wildlife that drank the river water. Although, third world countries continue to use DDT because it is cheap and efficient.

The Effects of Modern Pesticide Use on Soil

Pesticide use can damage agricultural land by harming beneficial insect species, soil microorganisms, and worms which naturally limit pest populations and maintain soil health. It also reduces concentrations of essential nutrients that plants need like nitrogen and phosphorous which in turn inhibits the plant's ability to grow.

It may kill insects feeding on the plants but it also kills insects and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil causing reduced fertility of the soil.