A New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle

There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and 2,4-D technologies finally set to hit the market en masse this spring.

It’s the same story for adjuvant manufacturers, who have toiled for years and spent small mountains of cash designing products to be used specifically with them — and still, as of late winter 2017, sit tight awaiting official word on whether their products can be tank-mixed with dicamba, widely expected to be the bigger of the new blockbuster weed-killing systems. Only a preliminary list of products is approved to go in the tank with Engenia, while word on XtendiMax and FeXapan is likely to hit the companies’ websites any day.

“It’s mission critical to make sure that we have a successful launch of this new technology and this new tool for the 2017 season,” says Dr. Jeff Bunting, Crop Protection Division Manager with Growmark. “This is probably the new era of a weed control system. I lived through the Roundup Ready days back in the mid-1990s … Roundup took over everything within three to four years, and we’re seeing that right now with the adoption and overall interest in dicamba-tolerant soybeans.” The main difference between now and 1996? “The big difference is the increased attention around the technology and the spread of information through social media.”

Engenia and Intact application Precision Laboratories
Shown here is an application of Engenia and Precision Laboratories’ Intact with TTI nozzles last summer. The Intact was instrumental in maximizing drift control and retention of large spray droplets created by the TTI nozzles. While coverage on the leaf surface wasn’t what would be required for other herbicides, the combination of Intact and Engenia proved deadly for this lambsquarter.

“We hear everything from retailers saying they don’t want to spray the new technologies (due to liability of off-target movement), to others saying they are reluctant, to others who are just excited to have a tool in their arsenal. The feedback we get is that just trying to manage logistics of the buffer zone is a concern, and potentially the effect dicamba could have for retailers in how they handle these products,” says Jim Reiss, Senior Vice President of Product Development with Precision Laboratories.

Traditionally in the Midwest, a vast majority of tank-mixes are hot-loaded: they are created at the plant, put on a nurse truck and sent out in the field. “That’s probably not going to work for dicamba,” Reiss explains, as that truck means yet one more piece of equipment that is potentially cross-contaminated. “Guys barely think about cleaning out their sprayers, or if they think about it they typically don’t think about cleaning out their nurse equipment, and then potentially cleaning everything at the plant.”

The extra elements to think about make retailers nervous, he says, yet what is reassuring is the energy he sees being channeled into figuring out how to manage it all now, rather than later.

“This is a new day for the industry,” Ray Pigati, Product Technical Specialist with Land O’Lakes’ WinField United, says in an interview with CropLife®. “We have never been in a situation where EPA can so greatly influence the behaviors and decision-making of farmers … it is more important than ever to follow the label to the letter. Before, you read a label once, you knew what it was going to say and you got comfortable. This is a different game — the label is going to change throughout the year, and those changes are going to affect how to spray.”

Retailers and growers must be aware that changes can be made at any time to the lists of accepted tank-mix adjuvants to be used with either Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo, Monsanto’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia, or DuPont’s FeXapan. In an unprecedented step, the applicator must now check a website within seven days of spraying to confirm that the commercial name for the adjuvant is approved with the trait technology. In other words, assume nothing.

Those websites are:

One of WinField United’s goals, Pigati says, is to help keep grower partners, retailers and applicators up to date on all changes. Let nothing fall through the cracks. “It’s a better day for everybody” when the company can help shepherd them through the process. Constant communication is just one part of WinField United’s mission to help the new dicamba herbicides perform to maximum potential. Educating retailers through spray clinics and walkarounds on how to clean out a sprayer, how to apply herbicides properly, and how to use the right nozzle are equally important.

Poor adjuvant application
Here is a treatment that demonstrates what can happen when spray droplets get too big and coverage suffers. This particular adjuvant and nozzle combination reduced canopy penetration and coverage resulting in poor control performance on smaller weeds.

Brian Kuehl, Director of Product Development with West Central, echoes the need for communication and emphasis on education. In his interactions with growers, he’s found that adjuvants have not been high on their priority list, but he expects to get more questions as application time closes in. It’s not only the added requirements and liability concerns that can overwhelm, but the dicamba and 2,4-D trait technologies have also fueled a windfall of new choices.

“Today in the U.S. there are, at minimum, 780 different adjuvant brand names from 38 different companies. When you look at that many products, a lot of which function similarly, it is hard for growers and even retailers to wade through which ones they want to utilize,” Kuehl says.

Keeping the dicamba product on-site was important in the past, but will be exponentially more important now. “If we don’t improve upon what happened last year (when off-label dicamba spraying of Xtend crops left the Mid-South with a multitude of drift cases), we won’t be able to keep these technologies in the future,” Kuehl cautions. Part of the problem, he says, was a lack of education around the proper use of dicamba in a mid-season environment, which is more prone to drift situations than application timings that have been more commonly associated with dicamba applications.

“Everything that could have been done wrong was done wrong. Not only is choosing the right adjuvant important, but the education process on how to utilize this technology from the nozzles to varying environmental situations to tank-mix partners to clean out — all of it is going to become extremely important,” he adds.

“We don’t want to be on the five o’clock news. We have enough attention on us already,” as Bunting puts it.

For now, the waiting game continues.

Adam Arellano, Product Manager with Loveland Products, tells CropLife, “If someone had to make a spray decision today, do they go with potentially a very limited tank mix, do they make two passes, or do they stick with their traditional applications for one more year to see if they are able to tank-mix more things? I don’t know. It will likely come down to specific situations.”


There are a plethora of new potential choices — the keyword being “potential.” Make sure to check the appropriate website within seven days of application to ensure the product is approved for use with the product, as changes are being made continually.

From Precision Laboratories:

The portfolio for Enlist Duo includes:

  • Ensure is a patented, stand-alone drift reduction technology with built-in humectancy. Ensure complements the performance of air induction nozzles, improves herbicide uptake and is compatible with Deriva.
  • Ensure Xtra is a convenient premix of water conditioning agents, surfactant, humectants and drift reduction technology that was built from the performance proven Transport Plus platform. Ensure Xtra can be used at rates as low as 0.5% v/v.
  • Deriva is a pH-neutral, ammonium ion-free water conditioning agent that ties up hard water ions that could reduce the performance of glyphosate, 2,4-D and dicamba. It was formulated so that it could be used with any of the new 2,4-D or dicamba-based herbicides.

These technologies either show up on the Enlist Duo approved list by brand name or, under a customer’s private label brand.

In addition to waiting on Deriva’s approval for Engenia, XtendiMax and Roundup Xtend, Precision Labs has also developed a unique portfolio for the dicamba-based herbicides and eagerly awaits the approval of Intact, Intact Xtra, and Ensure Max:

  • Intact is a stand-alone drift reduction technology based on the same technology used in the company’s Border Xtra products. It’s a proven performer in drift reduction and maximizing the retention of large spray droplets on the leaf surface. It complements the performance of the TTI nozzle that is required for spraying the new dicamba herbicides.
  • Intact Xtra is a patented premix of drift reduction polymers and water conditioning agents. Intact Xtra delivers premier performance in water conditioning, drift reduction and coverage. Intact Xtra’s unique polymer technology works with the TTI nozzle to deliver more droplets for better canopy penetration and coverage while further reducing drift risk.
  • Ensure Max is a modified version of Ensure Xtra that has been modified to meet the needs of the new dicamba-based herbicides and nozzle recommendations. It provides the same features and low use-rates as Ensure Xtra.

From West Central Distribution:

The new adjuvant family includes Veracity Elite, Jackhammer Elite and Cerium Elite.

As new herbicide trait technologies for dicamba and 2,4-D tolerance are introduced, there is a growing need for new adjuvants to work alongside these new herbicides since these new systems may not be compatible with adjuvants that contain ammonium sulfate. This, coupled with stringent requirements for better drift reduction and on-target application, is transforming the entire adjuvant landscape. West Central has developed a new adjuvant line to be utilized with the new herbicide technologies as they contain water conditioners without any ammonium sulfate, and do not affect the pH of the herbicide solution.

  • Veracity Elite is an all-in-one adjuvant with an extremely low use-rate of 2 quarts per 100 gallons. The principal functioning agents in this complete system encompass most applicator’s four greatest needs: water conditioner, quality surfactant, defoamer and enhanced drift reduction agents. Veracity Elite improves the performance of glyphosate and other herbicides that recommend a surfactant. This complete system also helps mitigate risk by improving drift control and off-target movement.
  • The first to receive approval with at least one of the new dicamba herbicides is Jackhammer Elite. This is a non-ionic surfactant/water conditioner blend that contains the industry’s most effective surfactant that has been proven across millions of acres to increase herbicide uptake and maximize effectiveness of your application. Additionally, the convenient low use-rate of 2 quarts per 100 gallons will improve storage, transportation and handling efficiency versus higher-rate alternatives that have been utilized in the past.
  • Cerium Elite is a patent-pending surfactant that replaces traditional oil adjuvants and is applied at 1 quart per 100 gallons, a fraction of the traditional oil adjuvant use-rate. This technology is a great solution for crop protection products where an oil concentrate, nonionic surfactant or improved deposition is required or recommended.

From Growmark:

  • FS Attero, designed for use with dicamba-based herbicides, is a convenient premix of drift reduction technology and water conditioning agents that minimize off-target movement while protecting the performance potential of glyphosate and dicamba. It offers unique AMS replacement technology that blocks antagonistic hard water ions.Advanced droplet management technology enhances large droplet retention and coverage for better herbicide uptake. Use-rate: 1.0-1.5% v/v (4-6 quarts) of FS Attero/ 100 gallons of spray solution.
  • FS Certin is a water conditioning agent that protects the performance potential of glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D from antagonistic metal ions found in hard water and leaf tissue. It provides AMS replacement technology, further reduces dicamba volatility, and complements a wide range of drift-reduction nozzles. Use-rate: 0.5-1% v/v (2-4 quarts) of FS Certin/100 gallons of spray solution.
  • FS Tenax, designed for use with 2,4-D-based herbicides, is a stand-alone drift reduction technology that optimizes the overall quality of the spray pattern by “right-sizing” spray droplets, which reduces driftable fines and minimizes droplet bounce off of target leaf surfaces. It complements a wide range of drift-reduction nozzles. Use-rate is 4-8 ounces per acre.
  • FS Layout is formulated to enhance pesticide performance by improving spray solution deposition and coverage while reducing driftable fines. It improves spray pattern and enhances nozzle performance. Use-rate: 4-6 ounces per acre in 5-20 GPA applications.

From Atlantic-Pacific Agricultural Co.:

  • Atlantic-Pacific’s HOOK adjuvant is now approved for use as a tank-mix adjuvant with Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide. HOOK is in the final testing process with BASF and its Engenia herbicide product and with Monsanto’s XtendiMax with VaporGrip technology herbicide. “We expect positive results soon.”
  • HOOK Zero: In light of the EU’s ban on the use of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) as surfactants in adjuvants, and in anticipation that EPA will eventually ban NPEs as well, “we developed HOOK Zero, which has no NPE surfactants. We are finalizing our testing of HOOK Zero, and expect to have it available this season.”

HOOK Zero also passed Dow AgroSciences’ EPA-mandated protocol and is approved for use as a tank-mix additive for Enlist Duo tank mixes.

From Brandt:

  • A-Plus, expected to be available in 2018, is a 90/10 non-ionic surfactant, with a built-in, novel DRT that is not an oil and not a polymer. “It’s going to occupy a great space, and is priced about the same as a typical 90/10 non-ionic surfactant, but will also have the benefit of built-in drift control,” says David Bower, Specialty Products Manager. A-Plus is also designed for use with vegetables, tree, nut and vine crops, especially around buffer zones. “We know it’s going to be a great fit, and it’s also Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) listed,” Bower says.

From Loveland Products:

“When we put a formula together, performance and flexibility is a key driver. When you are talking about 2,4-D, glyphosate, and dicamba, an all-in-one type offering is beneficial, because typically those aren’t going out by themselves,” says Arellano. “Ideally, you want to put an adjuvant solution together that can get the most out of the whole tank — not just one specific part. Droplet size, spray pattern uniformity, adhesion to the leaf surface, enhanced penetration: these can all be part of an all-in-one type product. And when you’re talking about weak acid herbicides, hard water tie-up is a concern for all of them; that’s why it makes good sense to have a water conditioner as a second offering.”

  • Strike Force is a proprietary adjuvant approved with Enlist Duo and pending approval with the dicamba system. Containing the comany’s patented Leci-Tech technology, Strike Force is the company’s all-in-one convenience product and includes a water conditioning and defoamer component.
  • Choice Trio is Loveland’s non-AMS liquid water conditioner designed to aid in the performance of herbicides susceptible to negative effects of hard water. It is approved with Enlist Duo and pending approval with the dicamba system. Choice Trio performs via three modes of action: sequestering, synthetic chelating and complexing of all hard water cations.

From WinField United:

The company now has three adjuvants approved for use with Engenia, with a fourth in the works (16098):


  • Surfactant: enhances herbicide activation, increases uptake, humectancy
  • Water conditioning technology: reduced antagonism by hard water ions
  • Spray droplet management: helps prevent large droplets from becoming larger


  • Optimizes droplet size: puts more droplets in the ideal droplet diameter spectrum
  • Improved deposition and coverage: right sizes droplet size for greater leaf coverage
  • Increased canopy depth: gets active ingredient deeper into plant canopy for better herbicide efficacy

Class Act Ridion:

  • Easy-to-use liquid formulation that combines dual chelation chemistry with patented CornSorb additive to improve herbicide coverage, humectancy and uptake
  • Does not adversely affect volatility of dicamba herbicides – ties up harmful cations without the use of AMS
  • Protects glyphosate and other herbicides antagonized in hard water by chelating cations


  • Patent pending drift and deposition adjuvant with surfactant
  • Improves efficacy of new dicamba based herbicides through the ultra and extra coarse nozzles by improving drift control, droplet spreading, and canopy deposition.

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