ScienceSeptember 10, 2018

Streamlining Agrochemical R&D to Advance Crop Protection

Autumn’s arrival signals the end of the traditional growing season, when farms…
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Autumn’s arrival signals the end of the traditional growing season, when farms begin the transition from high-volume crop production to making preparations for winter. Developing crucial crop protection products, however, is a year-round process for chemical firms. The global agrochemicals market is expected to surpass $260.7 billion in 2020.1

Despite the rising demand for pesticides worldwide, companies are facing increased pressure from regulatory agencies to demonstrate the environmental and health safety of these products. But complying with these guidelines is contributing to rising agrochemical R&D costs, emphasizing the importance of streamlined workflows. To meet market demand, firms will need to implement solutions that enable continual advances in crop protection products while also keeping costs down. This can be done by adopting integrated electronic workflows that support a smoother laboratory environment.

Regulatory Standards Emphasize the Importance of Streamlining Agrochemical R&D

The renewed pressure to develop more pesticides stems from increased demand for food. Estimates claim that the global population will rise by 3 billion by 2050.2 But because cultivable land remains a limited resource, the onus falls upon agrochemicals to boost crop production.

Despite this apparent need, efforts to develop advances in crop protection have encountered significant hurdles within the last decade. The cost of bringing a new product to market has risen significantly in the years since 2000; the average crop protection product requires on average $286 million of R&D investment. It also takes longer to develop a new agrochemical, from 8 years in 1995 to over 11 recently.3

The change can be attributed to today’s stringent regulatory guidelines. Fueled by concerns about health effects and the environment, more safety and toxicology data are required by agencies to approve a new agrochemical. Given that these standards aren’t likely to loosen anytime soon, companies will need to implement strategies that both minimize costs and accelerate advances in crop protection. Some suggestions to help realize these goals include:

  • Optimize laboratory workflows: As regulatory standards grow stricter, agrochemical companies will need to find ways to comply with those guidelines without slowing down the R&D process. For many laboratories, disjointed systems and inefficient data management are a present source of bottlenecks. To keep costs and development time down, organizations must find ways to minimize these issues. An integrated solution that manages personnel, materials and experimental processes effectively can keep workflows running smoothly and eliminate wasted resources.
  • Automate processes: Researchers often expend time and effort on repetitive, non-value-added tasks when their attention could be better directed toward more productive pursuits. One way laboratories can lower costs is by incorporating automation into their R&D workflow. By automating instrumentation and scientific processes, scientists can instead focus their attention upon analysis and gleaning useful insights that can further innovation and advances in crop protection.
  • Identify promising agrochemicals: Considering the amount of investment required to bring a new agrochemical to market, screening product candidates has grown in importance. Rather than spend time and money on a wide variety of potential products, R&D laboratories can utilize modeling and simulation or machine learning to identify the most promising chemicals for further study and development. For instance, consumer desire for eco-friendly chemicals has led to an interest in green pesticides. Virtual screening can help firms seek out effective active ingredients and create new successful formulations without having to invest significant resources in initial screening assays.

Concern about the effect of chemicals upon the environment and public health has pushed various regulatory agencies worldwide to tighten their safety standards. As a result, the time and economic investment required by agrochemical companies to bring a new product to market has increased. But with the rising global population fueling demand for larger and better crop yields, the need for effective crop protection products will only continue to grow. To keep costs down and accelerate innovation, chemical firms must adopt solutions that streamline their R&D workflows to continue the development of advances in crop protection while remaining compliant.

The Perfect Lab Industry Solution Experience from Dassault Systèmes is a unified digital experience that streamlines laboratories processes, thereby improving safety compliance and efficiency. Integrated electronic workflows support a smoother laboratory environment by managing people, materials, and activities effectively. It also boosts the experimental process by providing tools that enable collaboration and virtual screening. The solution allows organizations to explore promising product ideas without initially investing significant resources. If you’re interested in learning how Chemicals R&D can benefit your agrochemical company’s effort to bring better crop protection products to market faster, please contact us today.


  1. “Agrochemicals Market 2016 Research in-Depth Analysis, Applications, Forecasts to 2021,” August 22, 2016,
  2. “Agrochemical consolidation creating 3-pronged market,” September 15, 2016,
  3. “Cost of Crop Protection Innovation Increases to $286 Million per Product,” April 13, 2016,

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