An agrochemical or agrichemical, a contraction of agricultural chemical, is a chemical product used in agriculture. In most cases, agrichemical refers to pesticides including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and nematicides. It may also include synthetic fertilizers, hormones and other chemical growth agents, and concentrated stores of raw animal manure.
Many agrochemicals are toxic, and agrichemicals in bulk storage may pose significant environmental and/or health risks, particularly in the event of accidental spills. In many countries, use of agrichemicals is highly regulated. Government-issued permits for purchase and use of approved agrichemicals may be required. Significant penalties can result from misuse, including improper storage resulting in spillage. On farms, proper storage facilities and labeling, emergency clean-up equipment and procedures, and safety equipment and procedures for handling, application and disposal are often subject to mandatory standards and regulations. Usually, the regulations are carried out through the registration process.
Agrochemicals were introduced to protect crops from pests and enhance crop yields. The most common agrochemicals include pesticides and fertilizers. Due to the adaptation of pests to these chemicals, more and new agrochemicals were being used, causing side effects in the environment. However, agrochemicals are not completely inefficient. According to the article, Agriculture, Pesticides, Food Security and Food Safety, written by Fernando P. Carvalho, chemical fertilizers in the 1960s were responsible for the beginning of the "Green Revolution", where using the same surface of land using intensive irrigation and mineral fertilizers such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium has greatly increased food production. Throughout the 1970s through 1980s, pesticide research continued into producing more selective agrochemicals.
Sumerians from 4500 years ago have said to use insecticides in the form of sulfur compounds. Additionally, the Chinese from about 3200 years ago used mercery and arsenic compounds to control body lice.