Adjuvants Add Value

Last season was a wild and woolly time for most segments of the crop inputs industry — and adjuvant manufacturers joined the fray. They’re hoping strong sales will repeat for 2008. “Farmers need to understand adjuvants play a very essential role in crop protection,” says Tom Pekarek, specialty department manager at United Suppliers, Inc.

Adjuvants By Air

Mid-season applications of corn fungicides by air (to boost plant health) were good news for crop oil suppliers, reports Pekarek. While not a high-margin product, the oils — commonly used a rate of 1 pint per acre with fungicides — helped manufacturers’ bottom line, thanks to the sheer number of growers utilizing aerial application. The oils work to get fungicide down into the crop canopy and enhance efficacy.

James Reiss, vice president – agricultural business with Precision Laboratories Inc., explains that some fungicides, when applied by air, require a pint of crop oil concentrate per acre. “That could be over 6 gallons of crop oil in just 100 gallons of water. We saw a lot of aerial applicators really struggle with those high levels and the mixing problems.”

His company’s possible solution is Protyx, “the first adjuvant designed for systemic fungicides.” With several years of data logged — including trials at 14 sites across the Midwest in 2007 — Reiss says one quart of Protyx per 100 gallons of spray solution delivers the same performance as a pint of crop oil. (At presstime, BASF was still considering which new adjuvants to add to the Headline label for aerial use in 2008. Currently, only crop oils are listed.) He also believes this kind of alternative product is better for the environment, considering the volumes of crop oil needed and amount of packaging waste generated in recent use.

Jon Leman, marketing and sales manager with Wilbur-Ellis, would add that crop-based adjuvants are climbing in price. “Historically we could set our adjuvant prices in the fall — which we get from our suppliers. But we’re still getting price adjustments and increases as we speak,” he says.

The renewed aerial focus in 2007 prompted many companies to evaluate their products in this application arena. For instance, the increased fungicide use in corn resulted in a strong effort at Helena Chemical Co. to do just that. “We want to make sure customers get safe, effective, and thorough coverage and deposition when our adjuvants are used with suppliers’ pesticides,” says Chad Trusler, sales manager, adjuvants and VAP’s at Helena. “As a result, we set up trails in key production areas with different products used for disease or weed control. With our extended portfolio of products and adjuvant technologies, we verified that coverage and deposition requirements demanded for aerial applications would met so that field performance met or exceeeded customers’ expectations.”

Perhaps nowhere is the urgency to make pesticides pay felt more strongly than in glyphosate tolerant crops. Glyphosate prices are reaching unprecedented levels and promise to rise even higher. This at a time when virtually all soybeans planted today possess the glyphosate tolerance trait and anywhere between 60% to 80% (depending on who you talk to) of corn acres carry it.

Careful choice of an adjuvant to match a particular glyphosate formulation is key, says Julian Smith, sales director, specialty formulations with Brandt Consolidated. Indeed, United Suppliers’ Pekarek says the right adjuvant in the tank can increase glyphosate efficacy some 30% to 100%.

Wilbur-Ellis has announced the national launch of a new adjuvant designed to make every drop of glyphosate count. A deposition agent called Coverage G20, “it actually delivers 20% more glyphosate to the target,” says Leman. Receiving great feedback, the agent was test marketed to nearly 1 million acres in North Dakota last year.

A newer use for adjuvants is to help glyphosate tank mix partners — additional active ingredients to help in resistance fighting programs — but the approach did not take off in the Midwest in 2007, says Reiss. But to the South, tank mixing took hold better, and Precision Laboratories’ Simplyx nonionic activator provided “faster activity for the glyphosate piece as well as the mix partner.”

Manufacturers emphasize that tank mix partner chemistries are tricky: Glyphosate likes water, while most of its mix partners prefer oil. Another product that can help is Destiny HC, a high surfactant oil concentrate from Winfield Solutions, LLC that uses methylated seed oil. It is effective at rates about one-half those of crop oil and doesn’t antagonize glyphosate, reports Bruce Senst, director of marketing — adjuvants and equipment with the company.

In fact, he says many new herbicides (especially glyphosate tank partners) require high surfactant oil concentrates and water conditioners. “A significant number of those newcomers will require extra attention to tank cleaning between fields.”

Many previously used chemistries also will be brought back to fields for weed control, thanks to the glyphosate price hikes, believes Chuck Champion, president, Kalo Inc. “This will dictate different adjuvant use strategies that were familiar years ago, before GMO crops were in place.”

Value Propositions

Adjuvants can add even more value to a glyphosate program when other compounds, such as micronutrients, can be included to the spray mix. Research at Purdue University and Kansas State University shows that glyphosate-tolerant crops balk at translocating manganese from the soil. And trying to feed manganese as well as zinc by foliar application doesn’t work: “Manganese and zinc antagonize the performance of glyphosate,” says Reiss. Enter Import, a new chemistry from Precision Laboratories, via an exclusive agreement with Canadian technology partners. By adding Import to the tank, “you can make your micronutrient and glyphosate application at the same time and still get excellent weed control — and you don’t have to use an expensive chelated micro,” says Reiss.

“This is going to be able to provide retailers with an opportunity to increase profitability for themselves by marketing micronutrients on glyphosate acres. Plus it’s a great opportunity for growers to overcome some of the yield drag they’ve experienced over the years,” he adds.

Aiding micronutrients is just one way adjuvants are getting more sophisticated. Manufacturers have gone beyond surfactant/leaf penetrant qualities to create “combination” adjuvants, which offer buffers, water conditioners, and drift retardants as well. Brandt Consolidated is bringing a new molecule with just such activity to the market this year, reports Smith. Called Prolec, it’s a wetter/spreader/drift control agent that also can acidify the spray water. Bottom line: “The way to maximize a spray return is often through the choice of the appropriate adjuvant,” says Smith.

One newer flexible adjuvant is TRONIC, from Kalo, Inc. It’s a vegetable oil nonionic surfactant designed for mixtures where the label recommends a nonionic surfactant (NIS) and/or a crop oil adjuvant. “TRONIC can be used as a single tank additive for both requirements when the herbicide label doesn’t restrict adjuvant recommendation for crop oils, methylated seed oil, or nonionic surfactants only,” explains Champion.

New For 2008
 Product  Action  Company
 TRONIC Vegetable-derived oil and surfactant replacement Kalo, Inc.
 Import  Activator for glyphosate and micronutrient tank mixes. Precision Laboratories Inc.
Downdraft Deposition and canopy penetration agent. United Suppliers, Inc.
Pre-Long Sticker/extender United Suppliers, Inc.
Destiny HC High surfactant oil concentrate Winfield Solutions, LLC (new to company)

Growers will be counting on agronomists at local dealerships for information on adjuvant recommendations, notes Senst. Once chosen, adjuvants can really show their stuff in stress conditions such as dry, hot, wet, or cold weather. “Under stress, differences in adjuvant quality really show. The marginal performance of cheap formulations will be accentuated.” says Reiss.

Champion would warn that dry conditions like those felt in many regions last year affect late-season herbicide applications because the weeds have become “hardened off,” thereby becoming more resistant to herbicide uptake. He says methylated vegetable oil adjuvants (MVO) help, but applicators need to be careful to avoid injury to the crop. “Standard crop oils are also helpful in these situations with less phytotoxicity concern vs. an MVO,” he explains.

Industry In Flux

Adjuvant suppliers expressed concern about the industry as a whole this year. All sectors are facing unusual pressures in “the availability of components and supply issues,” says Pekarek. “We’re encouraging our dealers to be more forward-thinking about their needs. We can’t think it’s going to continue to be like walking into a grocery store and getting what we want off the shelf.” And growers and dealerships can’t assume what they pay today will be what they pay tomorrow.

“Overall supply and economics seem to be very volatile,” says Wilbur-Ellis’ Leman. “As an industry, we’re used to people setting prices at the beginning of the year. Now, it just changes so rapidly. It’s a different paradigm.”

He reflects on the impact to the distribution chain: “We’ve been in a 25-year trend of eliminating distribution, but this year, with short supplies, independent dealers find themselves in need of good quality distributors like they haven’t needed to do in a while. Somebody who’s anticipating and has supplies, even with prices changing,” says Leman. “Right now, it’s more about supply and timeliness and some of those other service attributes.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Adjuvants Stories

AdjuvantsAdjuvants 2014: Who Needs Good Crop Prices?
March 3, 2014
Apparently not the adjuvants market as new herbicide technologies and other influences have manufacturers ramping up production in anticipation of another splendid season for adjuvant adoption. Read More
AdjuvantsNew Adjuvants Report Forecasts A Growing Market
November 1, 2013
The global agriculture adjuvant market valued at around $2 million in 2012 is expected to to reach nearly $3 million by 2018. Read More
AdjuvantsAdjuvants: Activating Yields
March 1, 2013
Manufacturers are ramping up production of specialty adjuvants as the tank mix takes center stage in the weed resistance fight. Read More

Trending Articles

Matt Hopkins15 Best New Agriculture Apps Worth Downloading In 2014
December 16, 2013
These latest agriculture apps are sure to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2014 and beyond. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Eric SfiligojEntering Agriculture’s New Phase
October 13, 2014
The market’s giddy ride the past few years might be coming to an end in 2015, warns one industry insider. Read More
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Add To Farm Sustainability
October 10, 2014
Farmers nationwide find cover crops to be a tool that helps groundwater, prevents erosion, builds soil quality and complements existing best management practices. Read More
EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
StewardshipEDF Launches Initiative To Reduce Fertilizer Pollution …
October 9, 2014
The effort will engage farmers and businesses throughout the supply chain to transform the way fertilizer-dependent grain crops are grown and sourced. Read More
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And …
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More