Wood vinegar, also referred to as pyroligneous acid, is a liquid which is obtained as result of pyrolysis of biomass and lignocellulose waste. Wood vinegar contains numerous compounds that are obtained as by-products of bio-char production process. Two types of pyrolysis, namely slow pyrolysis and fast pyrolysis can be used in the process and this classification is on the basis of heating rate. Changing the variables would give different characteristics to wood vinegar.
Wood vinegar can be characterized by a unique smoky smell and its light yellowish to brown colour, which depends on the properties of feedstock and the type of pyrolysis used. Over the past few years, the applications of wood vinegar have grown significantly across industries including agriculture, pharmaceuticals and food. Continuous flow of investments into research and development have been expanding the scope of application of wood vinegar which spans from use of this liquid as an ingredient in medicines and deodorisers, to its use as an additive in animal feeds. Not just this, wood vinegar is very commonly used as a mordant in the dyeing process, as a facilitator in the process of fermentation, as a filter during sewage treatment, and as a raw material across industries. Immense benefits offered by this product has led many farmers and researchers in the field of agriculture to look at wood vinegar as an alternatives to harmful synthetic chemicals which are widely used for the purpose of enhancing crop yields and controlling pests while protecting the integrity of the environment.
Wood vinegar is gaining a lot of traction across the global agriculture sector, especially in organic farming segment, where a wide range of harmful chemicals, which have been in use for a very long time, are now being replaced by wood vinegar. One of the major factors fuelling this shift is the properties of wood vinegar which make it fit for combating diseases and shielding the crops against pests, enhancing the quality of the yield, stimulating growth of plants, and accelerating the process of germination of seeds. As the production of crops has, for long, remained exposed to continuously evolving and unpredictable challenges, nutrition of crops and their protection against pests are becoming even more important for proper farm management. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increasing global warming are continuously increasing the risk of pests and diseases for. Various studies conducted across the globe add more credibility to this point. For instance, a study, which was led by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and from the University of Washington, showed that crop losses are high in areas which are warm. This is because of the fact that this type of climate plays a key role in increasing not only the population of pests and insects, but also their metabolism rates. Pests are known to cause significant damage to crops every year across the globe. In fact, pests are one of the key causes of yield loss in many countries. Results of a study, which analysed 1,300 known pathogens, revealed that these organisms can cost the global agriculture sector around US$40 billion in losses each year if they continue to spread at the current rate. Continuous increase in the global population is increasing the pressure on farmers for increasing their yield in order to meet the growing demand for food. This food insecurity will continue to increase with the continuous increase in global population. The figure below shows the growth in global population from 2010 to 2019:
Global Population Data, in Billion, 2010 to 2019
Source: The World Bank Group
According to a data from the World Bank Group, the global in the year 2010 stood at 6.922 billion and this number has been continuously increasing and it reached 7.674 billion in 2019. While the pressure on farmers to increase their productivity in a landscape where size of arable land per capita is witnessing a continuous shrink is already immense, increasing attacks by pests and insects are making things even more difficult for them. This is increasing the use of solutions like pesticides and fertilizers by farmers. A data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that more than 1000 types of pesticides are being used across the globe in order to ensure the safety of crops by shielding them from pests and insects. In fact, according to a data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations statistics (FAO), the global trade volume of pesticides increased from 10.231 million tonnes in 2015 to 11.553 million tonnes in 2018. The figure given bellow shows the trend:
Global Trade Volume of Pesticides, in Tonnes, 2015 to 2018
Source: The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Clearly, use of pesticides is can be seen showing a continuous increase which is harmful not only for the humans, but also for the environment. Biomagnification is the process in which pesticides, which have been used excessively in a field, flow with rain water or with water for irrigation into nearby water body. These pesticides accumulate in the bodies of aquatic animals and when these animals are consumed, the concentration of pesticides gets transferred to the bodies of humans. According to a data from the World Health Organization, pesticides remain a leading cause of deaths caused by self-poisoning, especially in many low income and middle income countries. Farmers and other workers across this sector are at high risk since they are highly exposed to these chemicals. Not just this, many studies, conducted by researchers across the globe, prove that a strong link exists between pesticide use and incidence of diseases such as cancer, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease among others. These risks associated with use of pesticides are fuelling the popularity of wood vinegar among end users, thus propelling the market growth.
About the Author:
Dhiraj Kumar Sharma is a Market Research Analyst at Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence. He combines his outright understanding of technologies with years of experience working in the industry to deliver actionable information to clients who span across industries and geographies. Dhiraj often works closely with clients in order to better understand their requirements and is known for the quality of market insights he delivers to them.