Biochemistry is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates several sciences, including chemistry, biology, and physics. While studying the chemistry of living organisms, biochemistry provides solutions to a broad range of real-world issues, including agricultural problems. As a matter of fact, agricultural biochemistry is a critical field that explores the ways plants, animals, bacteria, and their environment are connected to each other.
Biochemistry is important in agriculture because it can improve the use of fertilizers, is essential for developing effective and safe pesticides, can be used to prevent plant and livestock diseases, helps produce more crops without expanding farmland, enables scientists to genetically modify plants and livestock, lets us understand the soil composition, and provides further information about livestock nutrition and metabolism.
To help you understand why biochemistry plays a crucial role in different aspects of our everyday lives, here are seven reasons why biochemistry is important in agriculture.
#1. Biochemistry Can Optimize the Use of Fertilizers
While fertilizers are widely applied to soil to improve the growth and production of plants, understanding how they work is absolutely crucial for formulating and using them properly. While the knowledge of chemistry might be sufficient for using chemical fertilizers, understanding biochemistry is essential for applying the right biofertilizers to seeds, plant surfaces, or soil.
In fact, biochemistry allows farmers to understand the mechanism of action of biofertilizers and the ways to optimize fertilizer composition and uses that could potentially lead to enhanced plant growth. Since biofertilizers help us meet the increased demand for agricultural-based products, the role of biochemistry in agriculture is enormous.
#2. Biochemistry Is Key to Developing Effective and Safe Pesticides
Different types of pesticides are used in agriculture for protecting crops from pests, weeds, and fungal diseases. Pesticides are also widely used for preventing rodents and insects from contaminating foods while they are being stored.
While there are over 1,000 pesticides used worldwide, some of them are derived from natural materials, including animals, plants, and microorganisms. These pesticides are known as biopesticides and are used to control various agricultural pests and pathogens. Therefore, biochemistry plays a key role in developing effective pesticides that could replace toxic alternatives.
Read more about the role of biochemistry in pest control in this peer-reviewed article on News Medical.
#3. Biochemistry Can Be Used to Prevent Plant and Livestock Diseases
Pathogens often cause diseases or illnesses in various multicellular organisms, including plants and livestock. And on some occasions, livestock diseases can be transferred to other animals or even humans.
Understanding how different diseases can affect plants and livestock is important for preventing or treating the conditions. This is when biochemistry comes into play. Whether we are talking about pesticides or medication and vaccines, biochemists are involved in the process of developing and producing effective biochemicals.
To understand the importance of the use of veterinary vaccines for livestock in controlling foodborne parasitic diseases, check out this review article.
#4. Biochemistry Helps Produce More Crops without Using Extra Farmland
As there is a growing demand for plant-based foods worldwide, the production of more crops is necessary. While you can easily plant more crops by expanding your farmland, this could lead to increased expenses and a variety of other issues. So, why don’t we develop ways to produce more crops without expanding agricultural land? We surely can.
Biochemistry is key to meeting the world’s ever-increasing demand for food while preventing farmers from using extra landscape. Numerous strategies and innovative techniques developed by biochemists are widely used to optimize crop cultivation and, therefore, improve crop yields.
How this works is that biochemistry helps farmers understand how plants respond to different environmental factors, how their metabolism works, and what factors lead to successful plant growth.
#5. Biochemistry Allows Scientists to Genetically Modify Plants and Livestock
Similarly to living organisms, plants have genes that are responsible for certain functions or behavior. Therefore, genetically modifying plants and livestock can promote their growth while helping them withstand different environmental changes.
While some genes promote woody stem growth and prevent dehydration in plants, others allow plants to fight climate changes. Besides, scientists can also genetically modify animals to introduce new traits that enhance growth or increase resistance to diseases.
So, whether we are talking about crops or livestock, genetic modification can be a useful tool for changing the characteristics of plants and animals. And this would not have been possible without biochemistry.
#6. Biochemistry Helps Us Understand the Composition of Soil
Soil science is the study of soil that incorporates several branches, including soil biochemistry which focuses on exploring how soil organic matter is formed and decomposed. Biochemistry also encompasses biochemical transformations in soil that are caused by enzymes and living organisms.
Since agriculture significantly alters the amount and composition of nutrients in the soil, biochemistry is important in understanding different types of soil. Besides, microbial activities combined with weathering can lead to the formation of an even wider variety of soil types, making biochemists absolutely crucial in the agricultural industry.
#7. Biochemistry Provides Information about Livestock Nutrition and Metabolism
Last but not least, biochemistry is important in understanding animal nutrition while providing new treatments for a number of metabolic diseases. In fact, livestock nutrition is basically the sum of feed ingredients and supplements given to farm animals.
Although there are hundreds of different products used to create animal feed, improving the quality of livestock feed is pretty much essential. Therefore, biochemistry plays a key role in determining the most important nutrients for livestock while taking into account their nutritional requirements and metabolism.