The article describes the basic concepts, terms, and general information about the plant protection products and fertilizers used in the world.



Pesticides are needed for pest management in agriculture, forestry, and landscape. Pesticides include all materials that are used to prevent, destroy, repel, attract, or reduce the number of pest organisms. The major groups of pesticides used in agriculture are insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Other pesticide groups include growth regulators, plant defoliants, surface disinfectants, and some swimming pool chemicals.

  • Herbicides are applied in the field for weed management. Safeners can be applied in herbicide formulations to protect the main crop.
  • Fungicides are used for disease control, while the source of the disease is of fungal origin.
  • Insecticides are applied for Insect management.
  • Seed treatment pesticides of all three above mentioned types are applied to the seeds before sowing.


Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides of natural origin, derived from animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals and have pesticidal applications.
The drivers for the development of biopesticides are strict requirements for the environment and human health safety, regular ban of common basic active ingredients by local authorities and development of resistance of the pests to common pesticides. However, the basic requirements for the biopesticides remained the same as for chemical ones: bio-efficacy, increasing of the crop yield and quality, cost.
The main problem of biopesticides is low efficacy, while assumption that pesticides from biological sources are less poisonous is not always correct.


  • By pests’ control
    Most pesticides may be classified according to the pests they kill. The word ending or suffix “cide” means to kill. The following types of pesticides are used to kill specific kinds of pests:

    By pests’ control

  • Mode of action
    Pesticides can also be classified according to how or when they work.
    • Contact pesticides kill pests through direct contact. Insects die when the pesticide is sprayed directly or when they crawl over surfaces treated with a contact insecticide. Leaves of weeds die when the sufficient surface area is covered with a contact herbicide.
    • Systemic pesticides are pesticides that are absorbed by plants or animals into untreated tissues. Systemic herbicides move within the plant to untreated areas of leaves, stems, or roots. Systemic insecticides or fungicides move around treated plants and kill certain insects or fungi.
    • Foliar pesticides are applied to plant leaves, stems and branches.
    • Soil-applied pesticides are applied to the soil. Some are taken up by roots and translocated inside the plant. Other soil-applied herbicides kill weeds by affecting the germinating seedling.
    • Fumigants are chemicals that are applied as toxic gas or as a solid or liquid which forms a toxic gas. The gas will penetrate cracks and crevices of structures or soil.
    • Preplant herbicides are applied to the soil before seeding or transplanting.
    • Preemergent herbicides are applied to the soil after planting but before emergence of the crop or weed.
    • Postemergent herbicides are applied after the crop or weed has emerged.
    • Selective pesticides will only control certain pests.
    • Non-selective (or broad-spectrum) pesticides will control a wide range of pests.
    • Residual pesticides do not break down quickly and may control pests for a long time.
    • Non-residual pesticides are quickly made inactive after application and do not affect future crops or pests.

  • Pesticide formulation types (Crop Protection Products)

    Table of common pesticide formulations

    Table of common pesticide formulations


    • Syngenta Group (ChemChina) (Syngenta Crop protection, Syngenta seeds, Syngenta Group China and ADAMA) - 28,2 $ billion (2021). Manufactures pesticides, seeds, nutrients, biologicals.
    • Corteva (Dow + DuPont) 15,655 $ billion 2021 – seeds, pesticides
    • Bayer Crop Science. 20,207 $ billion 2021 – pesticides , seeds, biologicals
    • BASF 8,162 $ billion 2021 seeds, pesticides
    • FMC 5,05 $ billion 2021
    • NuFarm 3,2 $ billion 2021
    • UPL 3,14 $ billion 2021


Fertilizers are natural or artificial substances containing the chemical elements that improve growth and productiveness of plants. Fertilizers enhance the natural fertility of the soil or replace chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops.

In total, plants need at least 16 elements, of which the most important are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Plants obtain carbon from the atmosphere and hydrogen and oxygen from water; other nutrients are taken up from the soil. Although plants contain sodium, iodine, and cobalt, these are apparently not essential. This is also true of silicon and aluminum.

Different NPK formulas of the fertilizers (% of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium):

Most packages of fertilizer consist of powder and granular mineral blends: ammonia, urea, nitrogen, and phosphorus salts. The main salts are Potassium Nitrate, Ammonium Nitrate, Mono Ammonium Phosphate (MAP), Diammonium Phosphate (DAP); Superphosphate, Urea, granulated NPK. The fertilizer blend is characterized by the letters NPK followed by some numbers, for example: NPK 10-5-5. NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium which are three of the most important nutrients required by plants. The numbers following NPK are the percent amounts of each nutrient:

N = % of elemental Nitrogen.
P = % P2O5 (phosphate) equivalent, while % of elemental P = 0.437 x P2O5.
K = % K2O (potash) equivalent, while % of elemental K = 0.83 x K2O.

Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF)

Controlled release granular fertilizers are polymer coated granules of mineral salts with fertilizer release period of 4-24 months. They are expensive and commonly applied for tennis courts, horticulture, city gardens.

Other common fertilizers

  • Liquid water based NPK formulas with Magnesium.
  • Micronutrients (mixtures of microelements – Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Calcium and other water-soluble salts and chelates and insoluble oxides.
  • Bio stimulants.

Total fertilizer market

Total fertilizer market in 2021 reached 163 $ billion.

Main fertilizer manufacturers

More than 42% of the manufacturers are Russian and Chinese companies. Their manufacturing is based mainly on the mined mineral salts. They export just salts as raw materials, usually do not prepare blends, granulation, and more sophisticated products.

Largest companies:

  • Uralkali
  • Haifa Group
  • ICL
  • CF Industries
  • IFFCO (Indian company)
  • Nutrien Limited
  • The Mosaic Company
  • Yara International
  • Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company
  • Kemira
  • Agrium Inc