NovaChem > Industry News > 2023 > The unsung heroes of crop protection.

The unsung heroes of crop protection.

Published on 16/06/2023

David Lingan, UPL NZ’s adjuvant product manager, says adjuvants have a lot to offer in terms of efficacy and savings though they frequently fly under the radar.
“Adjuvants help extract every
last cent from herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.”

As a sustainable solutions pro
vider, UPL NZ certainly knows the category well, he says. Previously Elliott Chemicals, it began work on adjuvants in this country more than two decades ago. Today, it is an industry leader with a portfolio of 22 proven adjuvant products. Each product has a special role to play. This ranges from optimising crop protection products’ efficacy and improving rainfastness, to ‘softening’ water, cleaning spray gear, and reducing drift.

Lingan says adjuvants are a
very broad product category.  “Alone, they have no crop protection properties. But working with an herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide their very clever science multiplies effectiveness and add benefits. The ability to get sprays ‘to, on and in’ are what adjuvants bring to the process.”
“The cost of crop protection
products is increasing at a rate we haven’t experienced in many years. Anything you can do to reduce waste and see improved efficacy is worth considering. It provides an incentive to integrate an adjuvant (or adjuvants) as part of most crop protection inputs.”

In addition to more precise
targeting and greater efficacy there’s another financial benefit, related to labour and water savings as Lingan explains.
Surfactants, probably the most
well known and widely used adjuvants, can also have a significant impact on time and cost savings as they can be used at a much reduced water application volume.

“That way, your spraying is
completed faster. Tank filling and travelling times are cut, especially if you’re travelling between paddock, and with that diesel and labour expenses decrease. Plus, you get a better outcome.”

Surfactants modify the spray
itself to improve properties including spreading, sticking, penetration, and droplet size, reducing runoff and increasing penetration of the active.

Lingan says there’s recently
been a change in thinking involved around spraying.

“Not too long ago, water was
considered ‘free.’ But water can be up to 90 per cent plus what’s being sprayed and optimising its use is something that needs to be factored into best practice and improving efficiency and ROI. There’s also environmental responsibility to be considered.”

A case in point is the impact of
‘hard’ water’s interaction with sprays. He says hard water can rob sprays, particularly herbicides, of their potency.

“What people often forget is
that water is actually an active chemical (H20). Some chemicals, including glyphosates, are very susceptible to the effect of hard water. The positively charged cations in calcium, magnesium, iron etc. bind to the negatively charged glyphosate molecule. This slows uptake, reduces solubility, and can precipitate out of the solution, reducing the glyphosate’s efficacy.”

For this, Lingan recommends
the adjuvant X-Change (a water conditioner and ion scavenger) to optimise spray performance. Other types of adjuvants have features such as buffering and conditioning, defoaming, spray equipment cleaning and drift control.
Drift control is increasingly not
just a matter of reducing waste but of being a good steward of the land and a better neighbour.
For more information on adju
vants, contact David Lingan at UPL NZ.

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