Modern agriculture as we know it today, is a forever changing and improving industry. It is constantly adjusting, refining, and innovating to meet the ever-increasing challenges being thrown at those who make it their life’s work. When the thought of innovation comes to mind though, most would mention new pesticide active ingredients or perhaps even new genetics/plant breeding advancements. However, one specific area of advancement that is easy to overlook is adjuvant science.

What is an Adjuvant?

Adjuvant is a blanket term used to describe products used in an agrochemical tank mix. The Council of Producers and Distributors of Agrotechnology and the American Society for Testing and Materials describe an adjuvant as “a material added to a tank mix to aid or modify the action of an agrochemical, or the physical characteristics of the mixture.”

When it comes to tank mixing and even product efficacy in many cases, adjuvants are the quiet professionals. Huge advances have been made as it relates to new pesticides, or plant breeding practices and genetics. However as potential products to apply onto crops advance and come to market, so do the adjuvants needed in those potential spray tanks need to advance as well.

With over 20 different types of adjuvants currently on the market, ranging from surfactants to defoamers to deposition aids and everything in between, it can get extremely confusing as to where to start to choose the best adjuvant for your tank mix.

Adjuvant Categories

Adjuvants can be separated into two distinct categories: activator and utility.

Activator adjuvants are classified as products designed to improve the efficacy or the activity of the applied product. This category includes products such as the various types of surfactants or oils meant to increase agrochemical uptake or effectiveness.

Utility adjuvants are the opposite side of the coin. These products are meant to modify certain attributes or conditions that can affect the application or handling of agrochemicals. This is where products such as water conditioners, defoamers, drift control agents, and others fit in.

The key to selecting what adjuvant is best for the situation, is first to read the labels of all products to be applied. This can be an excellent source of information and in some cases, these labels may even recommend a specific adjuvant type and/or rate.

With the sheer volume of adjuvant options on the market, it is strongly encouraged that the appropriate research is done into the best fit for your specific situation and challenges. No one adjuvant can do it all!

Each of these two separate categories serve a critical need in the overall story of product applications in agriculture. Adjuvants have given the industry the ability to make the process of mixing and handling certain products less hazardous, reduce the potential off target movement of applied products, and even improve the overall control achieved by a pesticide. These quiet professionals in the spray tank allow your other inputs to be as effective as possible.

Looking to learn more about adjuvants and how to find the best fit for you? Contact your local Miller representative today!

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