The use of surfactants is becoming increasingly more common in industrial applications. Sectors such as agriculture have come to understand their many virtues for enhancing the performance of fertilisers and plant protection products on crops.
We’re all aware of one of the most important roles that surfactants play in agriculture: reducing surface tension so that liquid can better penetrate the surface. Their addition to crop formulations improves efficiency and helps save water used for irrigation, as it reduces the amount of runoff water.
This type of new sector practices, combined with technological advances, will give a definitive nudge to the agricultural surfactants market, which exhibits annual growth rates of approximately 6% up through 2020.
Why is the market on the rise?
Surfactant selection for agrochemical formulations is particularly important, depending on their application.
Different surfactants can be used as wetting agents, dispersants, or emulsifiers. In the case of wetting agents, their main use is as co-adjuvants in the application of various crop treatments, while dispersants and emulsifiers are usually added to provide stability to agricultural input formulations.
Good agricultural practices require the use of surfactants to improve the efficiency and performance of plant protection treatments: the most relevant aspect is their ability to reduce the rates of all input use, as they optimise their activity by flattening out water droplets and dispersing the product over the surface of the leaf, thereby achieving better surface contact, enhanced absorption, and better results.
So, which is the most suitable surfactant?
Because they are molecules with a lipophilic and a hydrophilic fraction, which can present different charges (the most typical in agriculture are non-ionic, anionic, and amphoteric), this provides surfactants with a versatility that displays a wide range of features, including:
- Reducing the surface tension of a water droplet over a surface;
- Compatibilising products in the solution for application;
- The solubilisation of essential oils in water, or emulsifying water in a specific oil.
- Dispersing a solid product in a liquid phase (aqueous or oily).
At Grupo Barcelonesa, we support the use of surfactants in the agricultural sector as a solution to promote good agricultural practices, thus reducing the amount of plant protection products needed and enhancing the effect of growth regulators, biostimulants, fertilisers, and deficiency correctors. Our experience recommends seeking out the most appropriate surfactant for each formulation according to its desired function. If you require technical consultation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts to ensure you achieve the best results.