Adjuvants 2014: Who Needs Good Crop Prices?
Even with dejected row crop prices now a frightening reality the industry must tackle head-on, adjuvants are somewhat surprisingly projected to maintain (or in some cases even build upon) market share in the crop protection realm throughout the next year.
“We’ve got another year ahead of increased tank mixing with glyphosate, which probably means a second adjuvant will be added to most mixes,” says Precision Laboratories’ Jim Reiss, vice president, ag chemistries, of the market outlook. “Add to that the now multiple herbicide applications for resistant weed control, the new Dow, Monsanto and BASF technologies coming to market and continued use of overlapping residuals and multiple modes of action — there is still going to be a substantive need for premium adjuvant products going forward.
“Now, I’m a ‘the glass is half-full kind of guy’ and there’s a lot of growing season left between now and next fall, so a lot can happen in that time,” Reiss warns. “But in my opinion, the crop protection products that typically go on last — foliar fungicides and foliar-applied micro nutrition products — will be more closely scrutinized (than adjuvants) with lower crop prices.”
GROWMARK’s Jeff Bunting, crop protection manager, agrees. “We will continue to see more adjuvants being used in applications,” he says. “For many years, ammonium sulfate type product was all that was recommended when making glyphosate applications. Over the last three to four years, the number of glyhphosate-resistant weeds has resulted in increased tank mixtures, and I don’t see that changing in the short-term (one to two years) since the need to eliminate weeds and maximize yield potential remains. Even though we continue to see the softening of commodity prices, effective weed management systems will still be implemented.”
Tank Cleanout Crucial
Another overlooked area of the application process — spray tank cleanout — should help keep adjuvant manufacturers busy for the foreseeable future as well.
“Unfortunately, and I say this in the nicest way possible, there are some applicators that are just now
realizing they have been doing a horrible job cleaning out their tanks and spray systems,” says Reiss. “We need to focus more on cleaning the entire spray system; the days of just swishing some water around in the tank are long gone.”
Adds GROWMARK’s Bunting: “We have spent a lot of time testing new combinations of adjuvants, as well as tank cleaners, ahead of the new technologies (dicamba, 2,4-D) that are coming. Our new adjuvant product for 2014 will be a new tank cleaner formulation that is unique in characteristics and performance.”
Also, GROWMARK has made some minor tweaks to its FS-branded Adjuvant Tank Mix App, reports Bunting. “We’ve just made it more user-friendly, with a new look and design, the addition of mix sheets that include field size, spray volume, tank size, use rates, etc. and the ability to share information via e-mail.”
Bunting also shares that GROWMARK received CPDA certification (see “Getting Adjuvant Certified,” p. 50) for a number of adjuvant technologies this year and will continue to expand its line-up of CPDA certified products in the future.
Precision Labs’ Reiss remains an unabashed enthusiast of the relatively-new CPDA program. “Our list of CPDA-certified adjuvants continues to grow, and the program is a great way for applicators and retailers to sort out ‘Am I really getting what I paid for with these adjuvant products?’”
According to Reiss, Precision Labs reportedly had “another great year” with its adjuvant portfolio, as sales of its Methylated Seed Oil (MSO) products, in particular Persist Ultra, fared well.
Volare, a Precision Labs drip reduction agent commonly used in aerial application, showed typically a 30% to 60% reduction in drift, as well as “great compatibility” with the yet-to-be-released dicamba and 2,4-D formulations, according to Reiss.
For 2014, Reiss anticipates Precision Labs’ launch of Erase, a new tank system cleaner. “This product removes dried on/caked on residues, removes emulsified residues and elevates and holds rinsate pH higher.”
Reiss says the new tank cleaning formulations (GROWMARK is also releasing a tank cleaner) are surely needed as the industry embraces new herbicide chemistries in 2015.
“The standard in tank cleanout has been ammonia for years,” he says. “Well, ammonia is inadequate in a number of ways. Number one, it has no detergency, so it can’t penetrate hard, dried on residues. It also can’t emulsify oily residues and it’s weak at elevating pH.”
Waxing poetic on the many benefits of tank cleanout, Reiss foresees a need to return to days past, when “complete spray system cleanout,” (as opposed to simply cleaning out the tank with water and ammonia) was more commonplace. “Once we start talking about some of this stuff, I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of guys saying ‘Oh yeah, I remember that’ all of sudden,” he predicts. “Sufficient tank cleanout is a delicate balance between technology and technique, and in my opinion time spent making sure our spray systems are as clean as possible is time well-spent.”
Meanwhile, Exacto, Inc., has identified several formulations in key adjuvant categories that will continue to provide the benefits applicators have come to expect from tank mix additives, according to Keith Fyhr, marketing manager.
“As new technologies (dicamba, 2,4-D) come to market, we will have the products our partners need in their specialty chemical products programs to help producers and applicators make this transition,” he says.
Another area for continued growth for Exacto’s adjuvants line is in water conditioning. “Use of these products continues to increase as more and more applicators resort to using less than ideal water sources,” says Fyhr. “WSe expect the sales of these products to remain strong in the coming years, and to that end we are working with some of the newer water conditioning technologies that will provide significantly enhanced efficacy in the field.”
At Helena, the rising complexity of the tank mix is driving many of its customers to invest in an adjuvant technology, according to Terry Nash, brand manager.
“Tank mixes continue to get more complex, and with our customers mixing several ingredients in the tank, sometimes all of those products don’t go together so well,” Nash advise. “Through our lab services at Helena Products Group. we are able to determine the proper mixing order, rates per acre, and the best equipment to use to make them all work together. Most of the time an adjuvant plays a key role in this.”
One adjuvant product that played a key role for Helena in 2013 was Duce, of which Nash says “Duce, our new high-surfactant oil concentrate, performed as expected in the field and for our customers.”
For ’14, Nash expects Helena to release a duo of new solutions for the adjuvant market. “In 2014 we have Zaar, which can best be described as a multi-functional, 100% active adjuvant that is patent protected,” he says. “It has many unique proprieties, such as excellent translocation. We are also planning to launch Retention, a product that will help with irrigation/water efficiency and a reduction in run off of nutrients and active ingredients.”
Drift Control, Spray Deposition
Like tank cleanout, drift control and spray deposition are two issues that continue to maintain relevancy for applicators and adjuvant manufacturers alike, says Dr. Eric Spandl, marketing specialist, WinField Solutions.
“Deposition and drift control continue to be very critical issues in the industry,” he says. “From a practical point-of-view, why would you not do everything in your power to make sure that every ounce of product coming out of those spray tips is going to be effective?
“Growers usually want to use one nozzle and keep it simple,” Spandl adds. “But optimized deposition and drift control are not simple — it’s an exact science.”
One WinField product launched in 2013, MasterLock, performed well in those two areas of concern.
“MasterLock, part of the InterLock family of branded products, enjoyed a successful launch in 2013, even going as far as to exceed our sales expectations,” says Spandl. “The components of the system give you enhanced surfactant activity combined with sticking and adhesion properties, along with all of the benefits of InterLock deposition and drift control.”
DropTight technology, a surfactant system featuring a new active ingredient, is primed for a big year in 2014 as applicators embrace its improved spreading, coverage and canopy penetration properties.
For 2014, WinField is continuing to work alongside some of the industries’ biggest players on new adjuvant formulations as dicamba and 2,4-D-tolerant cropping systems come online in 2015.
“Our product development team is always in full swing and we continue to look at over 100 different new adjuvant active ingredients per year,” says Spandl.
Meanwhile, ProGreen Ag, Ozawkie, KS, a relatively new face in the agricultural adjuvants space, is positioning its adjuvant products with several ag retailers for the 2014 season, including CHS, Inc., says Jeff Steward, owner.
C4, its premium adjuvant that contains 4% nitrogen, is in Steward’s opinion the “best surfactant on the market today.” Featuring Mi-Cell technology derived from cancer research, the product is reportedly rain-fast in 60 seconds, safe with all herbicide types and features a low use-rate (12 to 16 oz. per acre).
“Plus it doesn’t mess with the soil’s N, P or K, and it takes the plant to another level of production and performance,” he says.
According to Steward, CHS tested C4 against some of the industries’ top foliar adjuvant products at its Irrigation Research Foundation in 2013, and the product reportedly took top billing in both corn (32 bushels per acre average increase) and soybeans (broke facility yield records), as well as dryland wheat (20 bushels per acre average).
SUR-TEC, which the company describes as “a liquid, premium buffering and enhancement agent designed to maximize the efficiency of chemical spray solutions,” also fared well in anti-drift and anti-foam evaluations. Steward says the product’s low use rate of one gallon per 1,000-gallon tank mix provides an excellent cost-benefit of 0.80 per acre.
“So far anybody that has used SUR-TEC has really been impressed with this new technology, especially in wheat which is our bread and butter,” Steward says.
GRO, which is the company’s C4 with plant growth regulators and micronutrients formulated in, also fared well in drought and plant stress situations, according to Steward.