It all starts down on the farm
We mark World Food Day – October 16, 2015 – with a look at how a biodegradable crop protectant additive from Clariant is helping farmers to safeguard and improve their yields.
Over 90% of the 570 million farms worldwide are managed by an individual or a family. These smallholdings produce more than 80% of the world’s food, in terms of value, according to a FAO report published in 20151. However their sustainability and future food security may be threatened by intensive resource use. To ensure their continuing contribution to increasing food availability, the productivity of agricultural land needs to be improved through sustainable practices and technologies.
Green heart behind crop protection
The use of crop protectants can reduce potential crop loss by approximately 53%2. Also, by increasing the efficient use of natural resources, such as soil and water, crop protectants can enable sustainable land management3. However, if crop protectants are not used properly, the socio-economic and environmental benefits of safe, healthy, and affordable food cannot be achieved. To meet the requirements of modern, sustainable farming the goal should be to achieve maximum harvest yields and highest qualities with the smallest possible rational amounts of active ingredients.
For a crop protectant to be effective at all, it needs auxiliary substances known as adjuvants to transport the active ingredients in the spray fluid (usually water) to the plant. Such additives, like widely-used methylated seed oil (MSO) derived from vegetable oils, ensure rapid penetration of the active ingredient into the leaf interior. To mix well with the aqueous spray they must be combined with emulsifiers. Unfortunately many emulsifier combinations used so far are health hazardous, poorly biodegradable or the natural ingredients prove difficult to combine and are thus less effective.
Clariant has developed a new biodegradable adjuvant called Synergen OS based on renewable raw materials, which offers a highly versatile solution to this issue. For the first time, it combines the nature-based ingredients MSO and a tailored PGE (polyglycol ester) from coconut oil, an emulsifier with no environmental or health hazard which is also being used in food and cosmetics.
The resulting adjuvant for both crop protection formulations and tank mixes is harmless to health, usable with most widely-used actives, and particularly well-tolerated by plants. Plus, it considerably enhances the performance of the active ingredients with lower dosage than conventional adjuvants.
Less roll-off/run-off and less drift
What makes Synergen OS really stand out is its combination of two properties. On the one hand, the adjuvant ensures a faster penetration of the crop protectant into the inside of the leaf, which means the risk of being washed off by rain is much reduced. On the other hand, the adjuvant significantly reduces the drift of the liquid during the spraying process. The adjuvant has optimally sized droplets which ensure the spray lands on the crop and the potential for wind drift is lowered. This allows less spray to enter the non-target areas, and the distance to neighboring fields and bodies of water can be reduced, allowing an expansion of usable farm land.
In the application of crop protectants, Synergen OS ensures an increase in effectiveness and actual agricultural yields. Due to the adjuvant’s efficiency, farmers can save active ingredients, water, and energy while reducing their workload.
1 FAO: The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 - Food Security and nutrition: the drivers of change
2 Acc. To Oerke, E.-C: Safeguarding production – losses in major crops and the role of crop protection. Crop Protection 23 p. 275-285.
3 Jozsef Popp: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Crop Protection Measures (24.03.2011)