Prospects for Adjuvants Use in Agricultural Chemistry

Jan 9th, 2018

Today the production and use of such agricultural chemical products as adjuvants seem to be quite promising. The development of this technology is attributable to the growth of the industry of agrochemicals, which in turn is rapidly developing due to the increase in the global demand for clothing and food.

Adjuvants are used to enhance the effectiveness of pesticide compounds such as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. There are two main classes of agricultural adjuvants on the world market – activators and additives. The main share of the market is occupied by adjuvants-activators which change the physical properties of the solutions thus helping the pesticide penetrate into the body of the plant and protect it.

The most popular among them are surface-active substances, for example, emulsifiers, oils and ammonium salts. The class of adjuvants additives includes acidifying agents, water conditioners, defoamers and compatible agents. Their use allows increasing the area of spraying pesticides, droplet size and penetration into the plant.

Equally effective are built-in adjuvants (a substance added to a pesticide at the stage of production) and adjuvants that are added to the pesticide compound by mixing.

From a scientific point of view, the production and use of adjuvants is a complex process. To understand how the adjuvants work, we need to observe the interaction of the adjuvant molecules with the structure of the leaf surface while the pesticides are being pulverized.

For example, adjuvants included in the composition of glyphosate, allowed to increase the area of spraying and improve moisture retention in the leaves, respectively the plants could absorb glyphosate better. However, there were cases when the adjuvants failed because of their antagonism, long drying and other factors. But this, according to scientists, can be avoided, if to strictly follow a recipe of pesticide mixture.

The use of adjuvants is regulated differently across the globe. In Canada, this process is controlled by Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), in Europe, adjuvants are regulated by REACH, and in the U.S. a number of adjuvants are virtually unregulated. Occasionally, the American Society for Testing Materials takes attempts to establish control over the use of adjuvants.

The key agro-adjuvants producers on the world market are the American companies Dow Corning, Momentive Performance Materials and Brandt Consolidated; Dutch manufacturers Akzonoble NV and Tanatex Chemicals BV; Croda Chemicals (India); Adjuvant Plus Inc. (Canada) and others.

The production of adjuvants has a great future, primarily because manufacturers strive to create new multifunctional products and update the molecular compositions of the existing adjuvants.