Crop protection as it applies to agricultural chemicals, including the various types of pesticides such as insecticides and herbicides, and biotechnology, is an important (and often controversial) part of industrial agriculture globally. It allows for monoculture operations without the large amount of pests and issues with disease that there would be if such measures were not taken.
Chemical fertilizers, such as nitrogen fertilizers made from ammonia, phosphate fertilizers, and potassium fertilizers comprised of potash, are widely used and improve soil fertility. Calcium, sulfur, and magnesium are also used in chemical fertilizers to a lesser extent. Extracting and processing these fertilizers to their useful state is often an energy-intensive process.
The leading companies in the agricultural chemicals industry include Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow-DuPont, and Monsanto. The industry has been marked by mergers and acquisitions in recent years, with a planned merger between Dow Chemical and E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (commonly referred to as DuPont) expected to be completed sometime in early 2017, subject to regulatory approval. Additionally, Syngenta was purchased by ChemChina in February 2016, and Bayer is working towards acquiring Monsanto.