How formulation can make or break a herbicide’s reputation

Vive Crop Protection’s Dr. Doug Baumann

When it comes to herbicides, the power to kill weeds and protect crops rests with the active ingredient. But how products are formulated can determine whether an effective active can be a winner or a loser in the field.

“Quite frankly, there are active ingredients out there that wouldn’t be a product if not for the formulation they are in,” says Dr. Doug Baumann, chief technical officer for Vive Crop Protection. He adds that without the right formulation, actives would sit on the leaf or the pest and biodegrade without giving farmers the control they paid for.  “It’s really the formulation, that opens the doorway that gets the active into the plant where it can do its job.”

At the 2024 Ontario Agricultural Conference, Baumann looked at various scenarios where formulation can create, and make or break herbicides.

In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Baumann shares how herbicides can be formulated for both crop performance and crop safety. Glufosinate ammonium, for example, is made and sold by several companies but the brand farmers know as Liberty 200 SN has become a leader in the marketplace because its formulation enables it to deliver high levels of  performance and crop safety.

“What makes Liberty special, and specifically on lamb’s-quarters, is the original developer of Liberty has figured out how to give you efficacy on lamb’s-quarters without heating up the herbicide on soy,” explains Baumann. “If you want to heat up the product on everything, like a non-selective herbicide, that’s not so hard, but giving an extra boost on lamb’s-quarters control and remaining crop safe — that’s the power of a formulation.”

Baumann also discusses how crop protection companies have learned how to produce broad spectrum control by building effective formulations that can include four or five different active ingredients. “Here you’re getting way more bang for your buck and that single pass convenience without the risk of a tank mix going south on you — that again is the power of a formulation.”

Formulations can also extend to herbicides and fertilizers and how they can mix effectively. To illustrate his point, Baumann notes the success of Acuron herbicides with UAN 28 per cent and Vive’s own product, Azteroid FC, which produces a stable mix when combined with eight different fertilizers.

Check out the full conversation below.

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