Adjuvants: Activating Yields

With so many different products beyond glyphosate being introduced to the tank mix, compatibility agents are expected to continue their upward growth in sales over the next few years, according to adjuvant experts.
With so many different products beyond glyphosate being introduced to the tank mix, compatibility agents are expected to continue their upward growth in sales over the next few years, according to adjuvant experts.

With specialty herbicide formulations and seed itself costing more and more with each passing season — and late season sprays becoming more common with the increase in weed resistance — ensuring efficient application is key to maximizing profit potential.

“Quite truthfully, with todays’ resistant weeds can you really afford to bring a cheap adjuvant technology to the fight,” asks Jim Reiss, vice president of ag chemistries, Precision Laboratories. “I just don’t think so. With every weed it’s critical that we get high levels of performance — and for that you need premium adjuvants.”

Reiss sees adjuvant use trending in much the same direction as other inputs as growers become more willing to invest in maximizing net profit per acre.

“We’re seeing a significant increase in the number of acres that have combinations of two or three adjuvants in a single application,” says Reiss. “For example, in the past a lot of glyphosate acres received some type of water conditioning agent and drift control adjuvant premix. As more and more glyphosate acres include a companion herbicide or fungicide, that addition of a second crop protection product often drives the need for more adjuvancy to maximize performance and return on investment in the additional tank mix partner.”

A Tank Mix Market

“The whole point of adjuvants is to further enhance or protect performance characteristics that can’t be built into the crop protection product formulation,” he continues. “Right now the quest for better resistant weed management and plant health are driving the conversion to more tank mixing and a greater need for adjuvants.”

Wilbur-Ellis Co., one of the many manufacturers of adjuvant technologies on the market today, is also advocating a tank mix-centric approach.

“The increased use of various tank mixes to mitigate glyphosate resistance has added another level of complexity in understanding drift control,” says Rusty Harder, adjuvants product manager. “One area Wilbur-Ellis continues to see industry-leading performance is in our Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) products. In particular, our leading DRT product based on invert emulsion technology, In-Place, has gained even more acceptance.”

For 2013, the San Francisco, CA-based CropLife 100 retailer has big plans, according to Harder.

“Wilbur-Ellis plans to release our newest invert emulsion DRT in 2013,” he advises. “Final testing at the University of Nebraska wind tunnel confirms this product will have great drift control for ground and aerial application, including phenoxies.”

Additionally, releasing Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE) free formulations is a top priority going forward. “Many countries have banned or are in the process of reviewing the use of NPE’s. Wilbur-Ellis has invested significant research dollars to provide NPE-free adjuvants as a part of its portfolio. Look for the launch of a new NPE-free non-ionic surfactant that will be a game changer for our customers.”

Helena Chemical Co. is also seeing increased interest in minimizing off-target movement, says Terry Nash, adjuvants brand manager.

“There is a greater awareness of the value of adjuvants among growers, dealers and manufacturers who want to make sure their products are being used correctly,” he says. “We are seeing more adjuvant recommendations and requirements being added to product labels. Also, there is more use of drift reduction adjuvants because growers want to minimize the risks associated with off-target movement.”

Two Helena adjuvant products made market waves in 2012: Hel-Fire (herbicide activator) and Fire-Zone (Methylated Seed Oil [MSO]). “Hel-Fire has shown very good results when in burn-down and over-the-top applications,” says Nash. “Fire-Zone, which was introduced last year, really took off after growers found they got faster, more effective results in burn-down applications. With Fire-Zone, we restrict usage to burn-down only.”

Duce, a new “high surfactant, methylated vegetable oil concentrate”, is anticipating registration for the 2013 growing season.

“Duce is a new product that was requested by our field reps and we will be looking at it in certain markets,” says Nash. “It’s a good fit for our overall adjuvant line and it should find its own niche in the market.”

Growing Market

Meanwhile, in 2012 Precision Laboratories saw, among other things, the market share growth of its premium performing methylated seed oil (canola-based) in Persist Ultra. “Sales of Persist Ultra have grown amazingly in the past few years as customers squeeze every ounce of performance from the burn down tank mixes.”

Border Xtra 8L, a patented, liquid activator that the company claims enhances drift control and maximizes adhesion of spray solution to the leaf surface, is reportedly enjoying increased adoption  as the “corner-post’ adjuvant in glyphosate tank mix programs.

“Increased use of fungicides at both V5 and VT in corn production have really helped our sales of Protyx and Protyx Aerial  this past year. Protyx is a fungicide and insecticide activator,” explained Reiss. “Once the grower decides to go over that acre one more time to really maximize his yield potential, it’s often times fungicide plus insecticide, and their ultimate performance can be significantly influenced by the right adjuvant,” he says.

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