Agrochemical usage in the Japanese farming industryIn Japan, agriculture only represents a small industry. Since farming focuses on crop production, the majority of shipped agricultural chemicals were used for vegetables and upland farming as well as paddy rice. Crop protection chemicals such as herbicides represented the largest number of registered agricultural chemicals, followed by insecticides.
Next to the small area of suitable land for cultivation and the aging workforce, the climate poses another challenge for the Japanese farming industry. The rainy season in early summer brings heavy rain and floods, while the hot and humid climate during summer accelerates weed growth and insect propagation. Agrochemicals are widely used to counteract these issues. However, overuse of, for example, chemical fertilizers may boost plant productivity initially but negatively impacts soil health in the long run as it contributes to soil acidification and alters the pH of the soil.
Chemical fertilizers in JapanIn recent years, ammonia (NH3) had the highest production volume of chemical fertilizers in Japan. Ammonia can be directly applied to the soil as a plant nutrient or converted into various nitrogen-based fertilizers. However, ammonia poses safety and health risks as it rapidly reacts with body moisture. Therefore, appropriate personal protective equipment must be used when handling it at storage facilities and during field application.
Japan depends both on imports for materials to produce chemical fertilizers domestically as well as chemical fertilizer imports overall, as its demand exceeds the domestic fertilizer production continuously.
Presently, the increasing prices of fertilizers challenge the Japanese farming industry. The higher price is caused by decreased shipments of fertilizer ingredients due to the Ukraine invasion, increased fuel prices as well as a weaker Japanese yen. Since farmers need to cover costs, this may lead to higher food prices or a reduction in agricultural production volume.