Six Chemicals That Changed Agriculture

Six Chemicals That Changed Agriculture

1st Edition - July 23, 2015

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  • Author: Robert L Zimdahl
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128005613
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128006177

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Six Chemicals That Changed Agriculture is a scientific look at how the chemicals used in today's food production were developed, evaluated, and came to be in wide-spread use. From fertilizers to pest management, antibiotics to DNA, chemicals have transformed the way our food is grown, protected, and processed. Agriculture is the world's most important environment interaction, the essential human activity, and an increasingly controversial activity because of its use and presumed misuse of chemistry. The major characteristics of US agriculture for at least the last six decades have been rising productivity, declining number of mid-size farms, increasing farm size, an increasing percentage of farm production on fewer, large farms, increasing dependence of chemical technology and more developmental research being done by the agricultural chemical industry rather than by independent land-grant universities. Another equally important feature of modern agriculture is wide-spread suspicion of its technology by the public. The book will recount examples of this suspicion related to specific chemicals and present the essence of the suspicion and its results.

Key Features

  • Offers an historical analysis of the discovery and development some aspects of the chemistry of modern agriculture
  • Addresses the advantages, disadvantages, desirable and undesirable results of the use of each of the chosen chemicals and compares and contrasts the real and frequently assumed problems of their use
  • Provides valuable insights into the history and application of these focused chemicals, enabling readers to apply the lessons to new agricultural chemical developments


Researchers and students in agro-chemical engineering, crop development, agriculture science, food toxicology, food safety

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. Introduction

    • Chemistry
    • Alchemy
    • Chemistry and the Chemicals in this Book
    • Five Characteristics of Developed Country Agriculture
    • Agricultural Education
    • The Morrill Act
    • The Hatch and Smith–Lever Acts
    • The Productivity of Agriculture

    Chapter 2. The Characteristics of Modern Agriculture Enabled by Chemicals

    • Agricultural Development
    • Agriculture’s Eras
    • Results and the New Era

    Chapter 3. Lime: A Soil Amendment

    • Agricultural Lime
    • Sources of Lime
    • Where Lime Is Needed
    • Effects of Agricultural Lime7
    • Agricultural Role

    Chapter 4. Nitrogen

    • Nitrogen and Life
    • Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch3
    • The Haber–Bosch Process
    • Nitrogen Fixation
    • Results of the Haber–Bosch Process
    • Effects on Agriculture

    Chapter 5. Phosphorus

    • Introduction
    • History
    • Sources
    • Supply
    • Agricultural Role

    Chapter 6. 2,4-D: An Herbicide

    • A New Chemical
    • Plant Growth Regulators
    • Phenoxy Acids
    • Modern Weed Management
    • Development of 2,4-D
    • World War II
    • Effect on Agriculture

    Chapter 7. DDT: An Insecticide

    • Introduction
    • History1
    • Synthesis
    • Silent Spring
    • Environmental Effects
    • Human Effects
    • Malaria
    • Agricultural Effects

    Chapter 8. Recombinant DNA

    • Introduction
    • The Case for Use of Recombinant DNA in Agriculture
    • The Case Against Use of Recombinant DNA Technology in Agriculture
    • Present Agricultural Developments
    • Future Effects

    Chapter 9. Antibiotics

    • Introduction
    • Human Uses
    • Animal Uses
    • The Controversy
    • Effects on Agriculture

    Chapter 10. Conclusion

    • Introduction
    • The Challenge
    • The Changes: The Transformation of Agriculture
    • The Future: A Brief Comment

Product details

  • No. of pages: 216
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2015
  • Published: July 23, 2015
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128005613
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128006177

About the Author

Robert L Zimdahl

Robert L. Zimdahl is a Professor of Weed Science at Colorado State University. He received his Ph.D. in Agronomy from Oregon State University. Among his many honors and awards, Dr. Zimdahl was elected a Fellow of the Weed Science Society of America in 1986 and currently serves as editor of that society’s journal, Weed Science. He has been a member of several international task forces and has authored a number of books and articles on the subject of weed science. He is the author of Fundamentals of Weed Science, and Six Chemicals that Changed Agriculture both from Elsevier.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Weed Science, Colorado State University, CO, USA

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