Trends and opportunities in formulation technology
Enormous changes have taken place in the chemistry and technology of agrochemicals over the last 20 years in the discovery of more effective pesticide active ingredients. More recently, agrochemical companies have reviewed their formulation/packaging strategies leading to safer and more environmentally friendly formulations in more convenient packaging. Formulation technology is now seen as an enabling technology, which can add significant value and attractive presentations to pesticide products, and at the same time improve operator safety and reduce the dose rate and wastage of pesticide applied to crops, thereby reducing environmental impact and increasing food safety.
The primary objectives of formulation technology are to optimise the biological activity of the pesticide, and to give a product which is safe and convenient for use. However, because of the wide variety of pesticide active ingredients which are available, many different types of formulations have been developed depending mainly on the physico-chemical properties of the active ingredients. In the past most formulations were based on simple solutions in water (SL), emulsifiable concentrates in a petroleum-based solvent (EC), or dusts (DP) and wettable powders (WP). The presence of petroleum-based solvents in EC formulations and dusty powders in DP and WP formulations can lead to safety hazards in use and a negative impact on the environment generally. Most government and regulatory authorities are now demanding formulations which are cleaner and safer for the user, have minimal impact on the environment, and can be applied at the lowest dose rate. Developments in formulation technology and novel formulation types, sometimes in special packaging such as water-soluble packs, can also give products a competitive advantage, add value or extend the life-cycle of active ingredients.
There is also a demand from government authorities and consumer groups to use safer formulation additives and adjuvants, and to minimise the residues of pesticides on food crops after spraying. All of these aspects are putting increasing pressure on the development of improved formulation and adjuvant technologies.
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