Adjuvants: Activating Yields

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Controlling Drift

Winfield Solutions is yet another adjuvant manufacturer ramping up production in response to demand. “Historically speaking, the benefits of oils and surfactants and water conditioners have been pretty well documented,” says Dr. Eric Spandl, marketing specialist. “Drift control and deposition are two areas that are really growing within the market.”

According to Dr. Spandl, finding middle ground between controlling drift while maintaining product efficiency is critical. “For example, with systematic herbicides larger droplets are ideal for coverage, but then you sacrifice control. It’s all about finding that happy medium between the two.”

In 2012, several products fared well in the market, beginning with InterLock, Winfield’s next generation non-polymer drift and deposition agent.

“InterLock features low use rates and compatibility with all kinds of spray tips,” says Spandl. “And if you’re putting out 10 gal. of product per acre, you want all of that product to hit the target and stick to the leaves, and Interlock helps you do just that.”

Non-ionic surfactant Preference, which can be combined with InterLock (PowerLock) and used with herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, reduces surface tension and provides enhanced coverage and had a fine 2012, while Class Act NG (AMS water conditioner) and Class Act Flex (AMS + surfactant) both reportedly became large players in the water conditioner market. “With fungicides especially, you really want to paint that leaf and get really good coverage. By reducing the surface tension, you allow those molecules to spread out.”

For ’13, the St. Paul, MN-based manufacturer is releasing MasterLock, a premix featuring InterLock as well as new DropTight technologies, focusing on fungicide and insecticide applications.

“There’s a tendency with growers to try and go as low as possible on the adjuvant use rates,” advises Spandl. “This puts you into a compromise between cost and efficacy. With the minimum rate, you do get less pumping and less handling issues, but then you sacrifice performance. For the best adjuvant performance, it’s always best to use the high rate.”

For its part, GROWMARK Inc. is also seeing an increased interest in non-traditional adjuvants, according to Jeff Bunting, crop protection marketing manager.

“In the past ammonium sulfate was all that growers needed in the tank with glyphosate, but as the acres of glyphosate resistant weeds increase, adding another mode of action has increased the use of activator adjuvants to optimize the tank mixture,” he says. “This will continue to increase as we get ready to introduce new technologies in the next couple of years that incorporate another mode of action (growth regulators) into weed management systems.”

Drought conditions throughout the growing season made 2012 a solid year for adjuvant sales, and several of GROWMARK’s products saw increased use.

“With the drought of 2012, products that contained a true ammonium sulfate helped control weeds that were affected by the tough growing season. As weeds adapted to the drier conditions, the leaf cuticle thickens which also increases the presence of cations in the leaf tissue,” says Bunting. “Products such as FS MaxSupreme, FS Maxtra, FS AMS Max, and FS AMS Max DR provided exceptional control in a year that saw plenty of abiotic stress.”

As for 2013, GROWMARK continues to monitor new herbicide technologies in order to ensure its product line remains relevant in the market.

“GROWMARK Crop Protection will continue to evaluate new products in 2013 in anticipation of the new launch of crop protection products being developed by Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and BASF,” says Bunting. “We continue to evaluate new and innovative products that keep the pesticide on target and reduce risk from drift.”

Although no current plans are in place for a product release in ’13, GROWMARK has launched a new mobile app that helps growers determine product compatibility.

“The use of compatibility agents increased over the years, and to help with the mixing process GROWMARK Crop Protection launched a mobile app to help identify the proper mixing order,” says Bunting. “As we get ready to embrace new technologies in the next couple of years, this will be even more important to mitigate the movement of the droplet and to keep it on the target. FS Adjuvants will continue to identify the best adjuvant that reduces risk of off target movement and make sure that the pesticide gets into the plant.”

New Formulations

Private label supplier Exacto Inc., is also working on new product formulations for the coming dicamba and 2,4-D weed control systems soon to hit market.

“We are working to create the next generation of adjuvants that will work effectively with the new traits and supporting chemistry coming out from Dow AgroSciences, BASF, Bayer and Monsanto, among others,” says Keith Fyhr, marketing manager. “We are focused on evaluating these technologies to ensure the benefits of adjuvants are available to further enhance the performance of these new product lines as they are released, and we have several of our formulations being tested at the basic manufacturers themselves by way of our distribution partnerships.”

Although he can’t get specific, two additional areas that Exacto is exploring are new or reformulated adjuvants for soil amendment and drift control, according to Fyhr. “One patent pending soil amendment product I am particularly excited about performed well in field tests in Nebraska in 2012,” he says. “Initial results have shown that a field under pivot can either enjoy increases in yield under normal irrigation levels, or maintain expected yield levels with irrigation that has been cut by 30%. Water conservation where it’s needed and increased yields everywhere else – what a technology!”

“We are also focused on continuing our tradition of drift control innovations as the EPA draws closer to implementing new guidelines with buffer zone implications. Our latest deposition technology performs very well in university testing and will provide applicators with an important option in their drift compliance toolbox. The challenge is to make medium to course droplets that are large enough to avoid drifting off target, but not so large they bounce off the target pest and become less effective,” he adds.

As for this past year, Exacto saw some exceptional growth within its current product lines. “Use of our water conditioners and AMS replacements have been on the rise as producers working with less than ideal sources realize their water makes up about 95% of most tank mixes and hard/sodic water can have a significant impact on pesticide efficacy,” says Fyhr.

“Compatibility agents are also increasing in popularity as resistance requires more and more creative tank mix combinations.”

Grassi is the Assistant Editor for the CropLife Media Group, including CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines and the PrecisionAg Special Reports. He joined the staff in February 2012.
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